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Kuhl keeps dominating Crew to seal series win

Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- All Ryan Braun could do was flip his bat in frustration.

Braun, the hero on Saturday night, and the Brewers were dominated through seven innings by Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. The right-hander struck out eight and held the Brewers to just one hit, as the Pirates' offense provided three home runs in a 9-0 victory at Miller Park.

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MILWAUKEE -- All Ryan Braun could do was flip his bat in frustration.

Braun, the hero on Saturday night, and the Brewers were dominated through seven innings by Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. The right-hander struck out eight and held the Brewers to just one hit, as the Pirates' offense provided three home runs in a 9-0 victory at Miller Park.

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Kuhl gave up six runs (four earned) over a season-low 4 2/3 innings against Washington his last time out, but he found a rhythm early Sunday and faced the minimum over his first 4 1/3 innings of work.

"The last outing wasn't what we wanted," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "This outing ... eight strikeouts, one hit through seven innings -- that's a very good offensive team in this ballpark. It was a really good step forward for him again and a confidence-builder."

Kuhl tied his season-high for strikeouts and walked only two despite struggling to locate his fastball early on. He threw first-pitch strikes to just three of the 23 batters he faced.

Catcher Francisco Cervelli was quick to notice the issue and had Kuhl focus instead on his offspeed offerings, which were among the best they've been all season.

"It ended up working out because of the pitches he was making to get back into counts," Hurdle said. "His curveball played. His slider played. His changeup played and was an above-average pitch for him today. The last strikeout he had was a 3-2 changeup on pitch 108."

Kuhl now owns a 3-0 lifetime record and 1.91 ERA against the Brewers, including a 1.85 ERA at Miller Park.

"When you know you've had success and remember some pitches that may have worked for you, you're able to use that to your advantage, but every game is different," Kuhl said. "I tried to really forget what happened five days ago and focus on today. Watching [Nick] Kingham and [Jameson Taillon] attack these guys, watching what worked for them and being able to go off the work they've done the first two games was huge."

Second baseman Adam Frazier sent Chase Anderson's second offering of the game into the right-field stands for his second homer of the season. In the second, Corey Dickerson added an RBI double later and Jordy Mercer put the Pirates up 3-0 with his first home run of the year.

Video: PIT@MIL: Mercer ropes his first home run of the year

"We've seen him really good," Hurdle said of Anderson, who allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings. "Today, we were able to stretch him out and not miss pitches that were in the zone to hit."

Richard Rodriguez threw the final two innings for the Pirates and registered six strikeouts and one hit.

Video: PIT@MIL: Rodriguez K's six Brewers in two innings

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Starting off with a bang: Frazier's leadoff homer was the first career and the second of the season for the Pirates, who also started out with a 1-0 lead when Sean Rodriguez opened a 6-2 loss to the Phillies on April 21 with a home run off Aaron Nola.

Video: PIT@MIL: Frazier lifts his first career leadoff homer

Doing his part: The Pirates had already broken the game open with three runs in the sixth inning so Kuhl, who'd only thrown 74 pitches, came up to bat with one out against Brewers right-hander Jacob Barnes. Kuhl put down a bunt that hugged the third-base line. Barnes charged it and fired an off-target throw that got past second baseman Jonathan Villar, who was covering first. Colin Moran scored on the play, although Kuhl was not credited with what would've been his fourth career RBI.

Video: PIT@MIL: Moran crosses home after a throwing error

SOUND SMART
The Pirates have played four series against their National League Central rivals this season and won all of them en route to a 10-3 record in divisional games. Pittsburgh has outscored their divisional rivals 82-47 this season.

UP NEXT
The Pirates get Monday off and return to action Tuesday in Chicago for a brief two-game Interleague set against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Ivan Nova takes the mound for Pittsburgh, looking to bounce back from a rough start. The right-hander allowed a season-high eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits and couldn't get out of the fifth inning in a loss to the Nationals. Prior to that, Nova was on a roll, posting 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his previous four starts. Right-hander Lucas Giolito will start for the White Sox.

Andrew Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Chad Kuhl