MILWAUKEE -- Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas hit home runs and Lorenzo Cain might have robbed one. Jesus Aguilar added another two-strike RBI to his Major League-leading tally and Orlando Arciabunted for a two-run double.
If that's not "firing on all cylinders," as Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson put it the other day, then what is?
It was a complete team effort for Milwaukee in a 7-4 win over the Pirates at Miller Park on Friday, as those varied contributions plus 4 1/3 innings of one-run relief gave the surging Brewers their 17th win in 23 games.
They needed it to remain 1 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cubs, who look resurgent after coming from behind to beat the Reds, 3-2, on Ian Happ's three-run home run in the seventh inning at Wrigley Field.
In the NL Wild Card race, the Brewers' lead grew to four games over the Cardinals and Dodgers. Those teams settled into a tie for the second spot after L.A. won at Busch Stadium for the second straight night Friday.
"Anytime you have everyone contribute, it's huge," said Arcia, who came off the bench in a fifth-inning double switch and matched Moustakas' three hits to lead the way. "We have to find different ways to win the game, and if everyone's on it, we should be good the rest of the way."
Yelich hit a two-run homer and Shaw added a solo shot off Pirates starter Chris Archer for a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but it slipped away from Giovany Gonzalez by the fifth in his second Brewers start. Back came the Brewers, who tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on Aguilar's sacrifice fly, extended the lead on Arcia's surprise bunt double over first base for two more runs in the sixth, and made it 7-3 on Moustakas' home run in the seventh.
It was the Brewers' first game with three-plus home runs this month. Shaw and Yelich remain tied at 29 homers apiece, just shy of Aguilar's team-leading 31. Moustakas has 26 homers this season including six since being traded to the Brewers.
"You can see it -- everybody is just swinging the bats, upbeat, uptempo," said Gonzalez. "As a starting pitcher, it's a good feeling to know you give up a run or two, they're going to give it right back to you. To see that all the way down to the last batter on our bench, it's fun to see."
Gonzalez, fighting for a spot on a potential postseason roster, fought his command and was charged with three runs on three hits including Pittsburgh leadoff man Pablo Reyes' first Major League home run in 4 2/3 innings, with four walks and six strikeouts.
"It's good to see this team pick you up big time," Gonzalez said.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he'd never seen in 44 years in professional baseball. It was a first for Brewers manager Craig Counsell, too. And Arcia was thinking on his own, Counsell said, when he bunted for a double and two important insurance runs in the sixth inning.
Arcia's surprise bunt came against Pirates lefty Steven Brault, who was in a jam with one out and Brewers runners at second and third after Moustakas singled and advanced on Domingo Santana's pinch-hit double. With the infield in, Arcia pushed a perfect bunt past first baseman Josh Bell, over the bag and down the right field line for a 6-3 Brewers lead.
"That was very impressive. I think it was intelligent, too," said Gonzalez. "He literally caught everybody by surprise. I think it even caught him by surprise, that it stayed fair. I guess when it's going for you, it's going for you. It's awesome. I've never seen a push-bunt double for two RBI. There's a first time for everything."
Arcia said he couldn't help but notice Counsell's wide smile in the dugout.
"I just knew that run was important," Arcia said. "I knew we had to find a way to get that run in. I just tried to put it on the ground that way, I wasn't really trying to get it over the bag. But I'm glad it did. It worked out pretty well."
Aguilar's 62nd RBI in two-strike counts tied 1997 Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr. for fourth-most in a single season since STATS Inc. started tracking the stat in 1988. The rest of the leaderboard is within reach:
Manny Ramirez (68, 1999 Indians)
Sammy Sosa (64, 2001 Cubs)
Todd Helton (63, 2000 Rockies)
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Coming off a dazzling defensive series in Chicago, Cain kept it going at home by robbing Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer of at least an extra-base hit with his running, leaping catch in the second inning. Statcast™ rated it a 4-star catch with a 26 percent catch probability. Cain needed to cover 108 feet in 5.8 seconds.
"You watch him walk around every day, you think he could never get to balls," said Shaw. "But once the game starts, it's a different gear, it's a different mindset. He's just impressive to watch. … Defensively, he's made so many of those plays this year, it's hard to keep track."
Said Counsell: "He's doing things all over the field. He's making his presence felt. It's just a complete package and all-around game. It's something to behold. Defensively, when he gets opportunities, he's going to make the plays."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Pirates asked for a review of Starling Marte's fifth-inning groundout but lost the challenge. It was hit to the hole at shortstop, where 6-foot-1, 225-pound Jonathan Schoop -- part of the Brewers' so-called "goal line infield" -- made a slick stop and threw to first just in time for the second out of the inning, denying the Pirates any momentum after Reyes had just cleared the left-field wall for a tying home run.
Zach Davies will pitch against the Pirates for the first time this season when the series continues Saturday at 6:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander missed much of the year with shoulder and back injuries, but returned for September and has allowed three earned runs in 10 innings against the Cubs and Giants over his first two starts back. Right-hander Ivan Nova starts for Pittsburgh.