BY WILL GRAVES
Wandy Rodriguez allowed one run over seven strong innings and Neil Walker hit a two-run single as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Rodriguez (4-2) gave up six hits, walking one and striking out five. Jason Grilli worked the ninth for his National League-leading 16th save as the Pirates moved six games above .500 for the first time this season.
Walker, playing his third game since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a hand injury, lined a single to center with one out in the sixth off Yovani Gallardo for his first RBIs in nearly a month.
Gallardo (3-3) walked four and struck out four in six innings, allowing just three hits. Rickie Weeks hit his third homer to provide Milwaukee’s only run. Norichika Aoki had two hits for the Brewers. Milwaukee has dropped 10 of 12.
The triumph, coupled with a 4-3 victory in 12 innings on Tuesday, gave the Pirates consecutive victories over the Brewers for the first time since Aug. 18-19, 2009. Milwaukee has dominated the Pirates over the last six years, winning 73 percent of the meetings between the two clubs and knocked Rodriguez around during his last start against the Brewers two weeks ago.
The left-hander was rocked for seven runs in 4 2⁄3 innings of an eventual 10-4 loss on April 29.
Things were decidedly smoother this time around.
Working both sides of the plate, Rodriguez kept the Brewers off balance and found a way to get out of trouble. Milwaukee put runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings but had nothing to show for it.
No missed opportunity loomed larger than the one the Brewers created in the fourth when Jonathan Lucroy led off with a triple to right. Rodriguez induced Carlos Gomez and Weeks to hit harmless infield flies before Alex Gonzalez rolled a routine grounder to shortstop to end the threat.
Gallardo was just as sharp. Pittsburgh managed just one hit through the first six innings before Starling Marte doubled to center leading off the sixth.
Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez worked one out walks to load the bases and Walker took the first pitch he saw and laced it to center to score Marte and McCutchen.
The hit ended an 0-for-23 skid with runners in scoring position by the Pirates and was just enough to deal Gallardo a rare loss to Pittsburgh. The right-hander had won seven consecutive decisions against the Pirates.
Weeks drew the Brewers within a run in the seventh with a homer to the bleachers in left field off Rodriguez but baseball’s best one-two punch out of the bullpen shut the door.
Set-up man Mark Melancon retired the Brewers in order in the eighth and Grilli did the same in the ninth as Pittsburgh remained undefeated (17-0) when leading after seven innings.
The Pirates gave Grilli a little extra cushion in the eighth when McCutchen scored from third after Weeks threw wide of first after making a diving stop on a grounder by Walker.
Notes: Pittsburgh recalled INF Jordy Mercer on Wednesday after placing John McDonald on the 15-day disabled list with a bad back. Mercer started at shortstop and went 1 for 2 ... The Brewers plan to call up veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez on Thursday. The 31-year-old Rodriguez signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers in April. The four-time All-Star went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 78 games with Milwaukee in 2012 ... ... Umpire Fieldin Culbreth worked at third base on Wednesday night. He left Tuesday night’s game after being struck in the neck with a ball ... The series concludes on Thursday. Hiram Burgos (1-1, 6.86 ERA) starts for the Brewers against Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (1-0, 1.69).