Marco Estrada pitched seven scoreless innings and rookie shortstop Jean Segura hit a double and triple Wednesday night as the surging Milwaukee Brewers stayed in contention for a postseason berth with a 3-1 victory over the fading Pittsburgh Pirates.
Estrada (4-6) allowed three hits and retired the last 10 batters he faced in improving to 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last six starts. He struck out four and walked one.
John Axford worked around Andrew McCutchen's leadoff home run in the ninth inning, his 29th, for his 30th save in 38 opportunities. The homer broke a string of 22 scoreless innings for the Pittsburgh bullpen.
Milwaukee has won four straight games, seven of eight and 22 of 28. They entered the day 2 1-2 games behind St. Louis in the race for the second NL wild card.
Pittsburgh has lost 14 of 18 and 20 of27 to drop to 74-74, the first time they have been at .500 since they were 26-26 on June 2. The Pirates, who began the day 3 1-2 games behind the Cardinals, have had 19 consecutive losing seasons, a major North American professional sports record.
Milwaukee's Norichika Aoki led off the game by hitting rookie Kyle McPherson's second pitch into the stands in right for his ninth home run. Aoki, Segura and Rickie Weeks each had two of the Brewers' 11 hits.
McPherson (0-1) took the loss in his first major league start, giving up two runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. The Brewers scored their other run off McPherson in the fifth inning. Segura hit a leadoff double, advanced on a balk and scored on Estrada's single.
McPherson had made seven relief appearances, posting a 1.54 ERA, and was moved into the rotation in place of James McDonald, who was 2-5 with a 6.66 ERA in his last 10 games.
Segura tripled to lead off the seventh and scored when second baseman Brock Holt was charged with an error for mishandling Estrada's grounder. That put Milwaukee ahead 3-0.
The Brewers have won six straight games against Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Pittsburgh 2B Neil Walker sat out for the second time in three days because of lower back soreness, an injury that caused him to miss 15 straight games from Aug. 29-Sept. 14, though he did walk as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Walker's availability will be determined on a daily basis for the remainder of the season. . Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is on the trip along with the rest of the Brewers' baseball operations staff as they are holding player evaluation meetings with manager Ron Roenicke and the coaching staff. . Rookie RHP Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.23) is scheduled to pitch for Milwaukee against LHP Wandy Rodriguez (11-13, 3.65) on Thursday in the finale of the three-game series. Rodriguez is 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his last six games, including one relief appearance.