MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun is beginning to feel like an All-Star again.
Braun and Prince Fielder hit back-to-back home runs, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.Braun, who also doubled, has been struggling in recent weeks. He snapped an 0-for-19 slide with two hits Friday and knocked in the game-winning run in the 10th inning. On Saturday, he hammered a third-inning slider from Jeff Karstens to center for his 12th home run of the season and first since June 28 against Houston."I feel better than I did a couple of days ago," said Braun, headed to his third straight All-Star game Tuesday. "It is a gradual process. You have to walk before you run. I am headed in the right direction and starting to feel better."Brewers manager Ken Macha said he's seeing more patience from Braun at the plate, pointing to a first-inning walk."His first at-bat was really good," Macha said. "Hopefully, he is fighting his way out of it."The Brewers, who had lost five straight before playing Pittsburgh this weekend, won for the second consecutive game and are 7-3 this season against the Pirates.Pittsburgh has lost five straight overall and 23 of 25 on the road. The Pirates have dropped 26 of their last 29 games at Miller Park.Dave Bush (4-6) pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Brewers, giving up two runs and six hits. It was his fifth straight quality start."I am back to pitching the way I was before I got hurt," Bush said. "There is a little more life on my ball and I am able to get hitters out with my curveball. I feel really good out there."Kameron Loe got the last two outs of the seventh and Zach Braddock pitched a scoreless eighth.John Axford worked the ninth inning, giving up a leadoff homer to Ryan Doumit. Axford got the next three batters to earn his 10th save in 10 chances.Karstens (2-4) tossed five innings for the Pirates, giving up four runs and five hits. He walked six and continued to have problems with the home run ball. With the two homers he yielded Saturday, he has given up 16 this season."He made some pitches that got him behind in the count and when you do that against a team like this, they're going to take advantage of it and they did," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said.Fielder followed Braun's shot with a mammoth drive to right-center for his 20th home run this year and second in two games to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead."I feel like I had good stuff and then I had to try to change things to make them even better against Braun and Fielder, and when I did that I lost control and I was all over the place," Karstens said.Macha thinks Fielder also looks more comfortable in the batter's box."I saw a lot of plate discipline tonight from Prince," Macha said.Craig Counsell's sacrifice fly in the fifth made it 4-0.Garrett Jones hit his 11th home run in the sixth and Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly in the seventh cut the lead to 4-2.The Brewers went up 1-0 in the first. After striking out the first two hitters, Karstens walked Braun and Fielder. Casey McGehee singled to left field to score Braun.
Brewers rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy was out of the lineup again with a sore right hand. Lucroy will also miss Sunday's game, but is expected to return after the All-Star break. ... The Brewers and Pirates celebrated Cerveceros, with the Brewers wearing blue "Cerveceros" uniforms and the Pirates donning gray "Piratas" uniforms. ... Pirates pitcher Sean Gallagher hit Rickie Weeks in the back with a pitch in the sixth, prompting a warning to both benches from plate umpire Bob Davidson. The teams have a history of beanballs the last few seasons.