MILWAUKEE (AP) - Neil Walker wanted the Pittsburgh Pirates to get off to a better start after the All-Star break.
A.J. Burnett held off the Brewers for five innings before giving up four runs in the sixth and Milwaukee beat the Pirates 4-1 on Sunday.
Walker didn't fault Burnett, but rather poor defense.
``The way I see it, we gave them two games to be honest with you,' Walker said. ``We didn't play good defense today. We didn't execute on Friday.'
The Brewers opened the three-game series against the Pirates with a 10-7 win on Friday night.
``You have to tip your cap to how they pitched, especially today,' Walker said. ``This is a tough place for us to play regardless, tough place for anybody to play.'
Yovani Gallardo (8-6) struck out a career-high 14 in seven innings.
Burnett (10-3) had his career-high nine-game winning streak ended.
``Things happen. It's baseball,' he said. ``It's not from a lack of effort. These guys try as hard as they can out there. It just didn't go our way.'
It did go the Pirates' way early as Burnett stranded seven runners in scoring position through five innings, but then Milwaukee pushed across four runs on four hits and one error in the sixth.
Nyjer Morgan singled. Ryan Braun singled to right fielder Garrett Jones, whose throw sailed passed the cutoff man and allowed Morgan to score. Braun went to third on the play and scored on Aramis Ramirez's RBI single.
Ramirez stole second as Corey Hart struck out. Ramirez scored on Rickie Weeks' double, who then scored on Maldonado's third hit of the game.
``We didn't defend very well behind him (Burnett) which complicated it,' Hurdle said. ``The throw and the play at third, those are plays we got to make. We didn't handle the inning very well. A.J. pitched a very, very good ball game today.'
Burnett allowed four runs and nine hits and struck out seven in seven innings.
The one bright spot continued to be Andrew McCutchen, who homered off Gallardo in the fourth.
McCutchen, who had three of the Pirates' five hits, hit his 21st homer and fifth in the past four games. He also had two singles. He is batting .560 (28 for 50) with seven homers, 19 runs scored and 16 RBIs in past 12 games and leads the majors with a .371 average.
``He is as good a player as there is in the league,' Hurdle said. ``He is playing at an elite level, all across the board. He has earned his name being in those (MVP) conversations at this point. But it is still early. We've all got work to do.'
McCutchen made an impression on Gallardo, too.
``He's on fire,' Gallardo said. ``He's swinging the bat very well. That home run was a pretty good pitch. It was on the outside part of the plate.'
Gallardo said that the game and whole series had playoff intensity.
``It's really like win or go home every game,' Gallardo said. ``We all know the nine games we have here, the next series with the Cardinals, then the Reds. They're very important.'
Milwaukee took two of three from the Pirates. St. Louis comes in for three and then the homestand ends with three against the Reds.
Gallardo struck out two in every inning except the sixth when he fanned just one and the side in the seventh.
``Command was probably the best I've had all year,' he said. ``That really helped.'
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle felt that the team took itself out of the game against Gallardo.
``We got in a bad rut here, swinging the bat as far as striking out,' Hurdle said. ``Gallardo was very good today. We were susceptible to a lot of things he was doing. He had a very sharp breaking ball.'
Gallardo won consecutive starts for the second time this season.
Martin Maldonado went 3 for 4 with one RBI for Milwaukee.
John Axford pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
NOTES: Walker extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the first. ... The Pirates are 12-30 when scoring less than four runs in a game. ... The Pirates have gone deep in six straight games. ... The Pirates had won eight of their last nine games when Casey McGehee had at least one RBI. He went 0 for 4 on Sunday.
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