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Burnett leads Pirates into opener vs. Brewers

Jun 8, 2015 - 2:23 PM ( - A.J. Burnett goes after his seventh straight win on Monday when the Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.

Burnett, though, hasn't been sharp his last two times out, allowing eight earned runs in 10 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings in San Francisco on Tuesday, but improved to 6-1 to go along with a 2.20 ERA.

The 38-year-old right-hander had surrendered two runs or less in his first eight starts.

"You can pitch well and lose, and pitch like I did (Tuesday) and still win," Burnett said. "That's the way it goes, and why I'll never complain about the support I'm getting."

Burnett has absorbed the loss the last three times he's faced the Brewers and is just 2-6 lifetime against them with a 4.65 ERA.

Pittsburgh managed a series win in Atlanta over the weekend, as Gerrit Cole became the National League's first nine-game winner, throwing seven shutout innings to lead the Pirates to a 3-0 win in the rubber match with the Braves.

Cole (9-2) joined Seattle ace Felix Hernandez as the only nine-game winners in the majors after striking out seven while giving up six hits and three walks.

"He's already a tough guy to face," said Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison, who had three hits, "but if we get him a couple of runs, he becomes that much tougher."

Starling Marte stroked a two-run single for the Pirates, who have won five of their last six.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, was denied a sweep in Minnesota on Sunday, dropping a 2-0 decision to the upstart Twins. Jonathan Lucroy had two hits in the loss, but only advanced one man past first in the setback.

"All the balls that we hit hard (were) right at somebody," said Carlos Gomez.

Heading to the hill for the Brewers on Monday will be righty Jimmy Nelson, who has lost six of his last seven decisions. Nelson's most recent setback came in St. Louis on Wednesday, as he was pounded for seven runs and seven hits in five innings, dropping him to 2-6 on the year to go along with a 4.41 ERA.

Nelson lost to the Bucs earlier in the year, but is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts with them.

Pittsburgh has won five of six from the Brewers this season.