MILWAUKEE — Big hits and solid pitching can keep the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoff hunt. Manager Craig Counsell got both of them against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Eric Thames hit his 29th home run, Domingo Santana went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and the Brewers beat the Pirates 5-2 at Miller Park.

“For us to do something pretty special, (Thames) is one of the guys we need a good three weeks from,” Counsell said. “He is certainly capable of it, and tonight was a good start.”

Thames’ home run snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak and helped erase Monday night’s 7-0 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Brewers remained 2½ games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who beat the New York Mets 8-3. The St. Louis Cardinals are 2 games back of the Cubs after beating the Cincinnati Reds 13-4. Colorado also won so the Brewers remained 4 games back for the second wild card spot.

“We are in a playoff hunt,” Thames said. “It is not like we are 15, 20 games out. We are right there. The energy is high in this dugout. Just got to keep it rolling.”

And, rolling they were against Gerrit Cole.

Cole (11-10) took his first loss in 10 road starts since the Atlanta Braves beat him 5-2 on May 22. He slipped to 8-1 away from PNC Park over that stretch after allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings.

Santana’s two-run double highlighted the Brewers’ four-run third.

After Ryan Braun drove in a run with a fielder’s choice, an intentional walk set up the force at any base. Santana foiled the move with his first hit. Thames added the last run with a sharp liner to right that beat the shift. Santana failed to slide coming home on the play and was an easy out.

Cole tied his season high with 10 strikeouts in his fifth start against Milwaukee this season. He beat Milwaukee 8-1 on June 19 at Miller Park, striking out a season-high 10 for the first time.

“We get five runs off (Cole), and you feel like you had a pretty good night,” Counsell said.

Counsell turned to the bullpen to protect the 5-2 lead. Jeremy Jeffress, Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes, Anthony Swarzak and Josh Hader each turned in a scoreless appearance. Jeffress (3-0) was the pitcher of record. Corey Knebel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 40 chances.

“We put up six zeroes after that inning,” Counsell said. “That is a credit to the bullpen.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle agreed.

“They’ve earned the position they’re in in this hunt, in this league,” Hurdle said of the Brewers. “A lot of the credit goes to their bullpen and the job they’ve done out there.”

Thames drove an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right in the second inning, but the Pirates took the lead the next inning on Jody Mercer’s run-scoring groundout and Jordan Luplow’s bloop RBI single off lefty Brent Suter.

Thames and Cole battled each other. Thames came out ahead with the homer.

“(Cole) has been attacking me up in the zone,” Thames said. “I mean he throws 100 (mph). You have to get started early. You have get the head (of the bat) out. So, I tried it and it worked.”

Suter allowed two runs and three hits in his third outing and second start of three innings since coming off the disabled list Aug. 31 with left rotator cuff strain. He went three in his previous start Sept. 3 and pitched an inning of scoreless relief Sept. 5 in Cincinnati.

From the infirmary

Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson (right rotator cuff strain and partial anterior labrum tear) headed to California for a second opinion on his season-ending injury.

Walker trade completed

The New York Mets announced Tuesday that they had acquired minor league right-hander Eric Hanhold from Milwaukee as the player to be named in the Neil Walker deal. Walker was traded to the Brewers on Aug. 12.

The 23-year-old Hanhold went 8-3 with two saves and a 3.94 ERA in 30 games for Class-A Carolina this year. He was selected by Milwaukee in the sixth round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Florida.

Up next

On Wednesday, right-hander Tyler Glasnow (2-6, 7.45 ERA) makes his 13th major-league start of the season and second against Milwaukee. He lost 6-2 to Zach Davies on May 7 at PNC Park. Right-hander Chase Anderson (9-3, 2.93 ERA) makes his 22nd start of the season filling in for Nelson. Anderson, who beat the Cubs 15-2 on Saturday, has never made consecutive starts on short rest.


Pittsburgh AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Mercer ss 4 0 1 1 0 1 .255

Luplow lf 4 0 2 1 0 1 .233

McCutchen cf 4 0 1 0 0 2 .275

Freese 3b 4 0 0 0 0 3 .262

Osuna 1b 2 0 0 0 0 1 .243

Bell ph-1b 2 0 0 0 0 0 .258

Polanco rf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .257

Rodriguez 2b 3 1 1 0 1 1 .173

Stewart c 1 1 0 0 2 0 .188

Marte ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .247

Cole p 1 0 0 0 0 0 .160

Frazier ph 1 0 1 0 0 0 .285

Jaso ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .216

Totals 32 2 6 2 3 11

Milwaukee AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Sogard ss-2b 3 0 1 0 1 0 .273

Walker 2b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .263

Hader p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Perez rf 0 0 0 0 0 0 .264

Braun lf 4 1 0 1 0 1 .267

Shaw 3b 2 1 0 0 2 2 .274

D.Santana rf 4 0 3 2 0 1 .276

Thames 1b 3 1 2 2 0 1 .239

Aguilar ph-1b 1 0 0 0 0 0 .266

Vogt c 3 0 0 0 0 2 .229

Arcia ss 1 0 0 0 0 0 .269

Broxton cf 4 1 1 0 0 2 .221

Suter p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .231

Phillips ph 1 1 1 0 0 0 .214

Jeffress p 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Pina c 1 0 0 0 0 0 .274

Totals 31 5 8 5 4 11

Pittsburgh 002 000 000 — 2 6 1

Milwaukee 014 000 00x — 5 8 0

E — Mercer (9). LOB — Pittsburgh 7, Milwaukee 6. 2B — McCutchen (26), Sogard (15), D.Santana (26). HR — Thames (29), off Cole. RBIs — Mercer (54), Luplow (8), Braun (46), D.Santana 2 (71), Thames 2 (56). SB — Braun (11), Shaw (10), D.Santana (13). CS — Broxton (7). S — Cole. Runners moved up — Mercer, Walker. DP — Pittsburgh 1 (Stewart, Mercer).

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Cole, L, 11-10 6 7 5 5 2 10 4.04

E.Santana 1 0 0 0 1 0 5.91

Leathersich 1 1 0 0 1 1 10.80

Milwaukee IP H R ER BB SO ERA

Suter 3 3 2 2 1 3 3.66

Jeffress, W, 4-2 12/3 2 0 0 2 3 4.55

Drake 2/3 0 0 0 0 0 4.44

Hughes, H, 11 2/3 0 0 0 0 0 3.42

Swarzak, H, 22 11/3 1 0 0 0 2 2.28

Hader, H, 9 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 1.95

Knebel, S, 35-40 1 0 0 0 0 2 1.32

Inherited runners-scored — Drake 2-0.

T — 3:00. Att. — 30,331.

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