- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Although the Milwaukee Brewers are far removed from any postseason contention, they didn’t let up against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Milwaukee took a three-run lead then was held scoreless for the next nine innings as Pittsburgh forced extras and threatened to overtake the Brewers.

However, Logan Schafer singled home Nevin Ashley with the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th and the Brewers spoiled A.J. Burnett’s return with a 6-4 win over the Pirates on Thursday night.

“It was a long wait but it was worth it,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Somehow, some way we got it done tonight.”

The wait was made worthwhile by a little bit of good fortune. Ashley struck out to lead off the 13th but reached on a wild pitch by Radhames Liz before he scored the game-winning run.

In the 11th, with Francisco Cervelli standing on third base as the potential walk-off run, catcher Martin Maldonado whiffed on Cesar Jimenez’s pitch. But the ball didn’t reach the backstop as it hit home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and forced Cervelli to retreat back to third.

“Every game you win you get some kind of break,” Counsell said. “That’s what I think, so we’ll take it.”

Luis Sardinas added an insurance run off Liz (1-4) with a single as the Brewers beat the Pirates for the seventh straight time despite twice having late leads erased by Pittsburgh home runs.

“We’ve had kind of a grindy-type road trip right now and coming in and playing 13 innings tonight it’s a rough one,” Schafer said. “But we’re all proud of the way we competed and made pitches and took some good swings.”

Andrew McCutchen’s 22nd home run of the season tied the game at 3-3 the eighth. Gregory Polanco’s solo shot off Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriguez tied it again in the 12th after the Brewers had gone up on an RBI single by Ryan Braun.

Rodriguez (1-3) got the win after blowing the save. Kyle Lohse earned the second save of his 15-year career.

Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta allowed two runs in six-plus innings and appeared to be in decent position to win for the fourth time in his last five decisions when reliever Will Smith struck out Polanco with the bases loaded to end the seventh to preserve a one-run lead.

“For the first four innings Wily was the best he’s been this year,” Counsell said. “In the fifth he just fell behind hitters a little bit. I thought his stuff was still good, he just fell behind a little bit.”

Burnett gave up three first-inning runs his return from a lengthy stay on the disabled list with a strained right elbow. He settled down to work through the fifth without any further damage.

“(I) pitched it down the middle and they did what a big-league hitter is supposed to do to them,” Burnett said. “I settled down after that and pitched well for as long as I was allowed to but you’ve got to come out of the gate better than that.”

Pittsburgh remained 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central, but in control of the wild-card race.

The Pirates’ taxed bullpen - without setup man Tony Watson and closer Mark Melancon - finally faltered. Pittsburgh relievers had won 19 consecutive decisions they were involved in dating to June 25, the longest streak in the majors in more than a century.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: C Jonathan Lucroy missed his second straight game with concussion-like symptoms after being hit in the jaw by a foul tip on Tuesday. Counsell said the team is “obviously going to be cautious” while monitoring Lucroy’s recovery.

Pirates: LF Starling Marte left in the 10th inning due to discomfort in his left shoulder. He was hit by a pitch from Knebel in the eighth.

UP NEXT

The four-game series continues on Friday when Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson (11-11, 3.86) faces Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (8-7, 4.07). Nelson is 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five starts against the Pirates this season. Morton is 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA at PNC Park in 2015.

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