Mike Fiers' first trio of starts in 2014 have been historically good. On Sunday, the 29-year-old makes his fourth as the first-place Brewers try to avoid a sweep with the Pirates now just four games back in the National League Central.
Fiers, who made his first four appearances of the season out of the bullpen, has been lights-out since Milwaukee put him in the rotation earlier this month. The right-hander has won all three of the outings, compiling a 0.86 ERA, a 0.52 WHIP and a .116 opponents' batting average in the process.
He also has 25 strikeouts in 21 innings as a starter, a stat highlighted by a 14-punchout performance against the Cubs on Aug. 14. Fiers is just the fourth pitcher in history to surrender two earned runs or fewer and strike out at least 25 in the first three starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
While the numbers are catching a lot of eyes around baseball, Fiers said he keeps his attention on putting his team in a position to win.
"I don't really like looking at the numbers. I just want to go out and clear my mind for every start and just think of it as it is," he said. "Just start with a clean slate. I think if you look too far into your stats and say, 'I'm doing this, I'm doing that,' it gets away from staying with the basics and throwing strikes down in the zone, changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance."
The Pirates will try to snap Fiers' streak, and in the process, sweep the Brewers for the first time this season and gain another game on the NL Central leaders. The two wins so far this weekend have put Pittsburgh in striking distance of Milwaukee and just 1 1/2 games back of San Francisco for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Brewers hold just a half-game lead over the second-place Cardinals.
The Bucs will turn to Vance Worley in the finale, and the right-hander has been in a bit of a funk in his last two starts.
Worley had won five of his first six outings since joining the rotation in mid-June. But in his latest pair of starts, Worley has lost twice and has a 6.35 ERA while opponents own a 1.049 OPS in that time. Worley ended his last start with five scoreless innings, but he gave up six runs (five earned) in the first inning against the Braves on Monday.
Pirates: Pimentel struggles in third rehab showing
Making his third rehab appearance for Double-A Altoona, reliever Stolmy Pimentel did not have his command Saturday night.
Pimentel pitched just one-third of an inning, surrendering three walks and a hit which led to three runs -- one of which was earned. Only 11 of the 25 pitches Pimentel threw against New Britain were strikes. However, it was the first time he allowed a run in his three rehab showings, throwing four scoreless innings before Saturday.
A right-hander, Pimentel was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle on Aug. 15, a day after injuring it against the Tigers.
Brewers: Roenicke holds Segura out of starting lineup
Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was out of the team's lineup Saturday, and manager Ron Roenicke said he wanted to give him a mental day off.
While Segura got to spend some time in the dugout early in the 10-2 loss to the Pirates, he entered in the top of the sixth inning as part of a double switch. He ended up going 1-for-2.
The second-year shortstop has struggled offensively this season, hitting just .233. The usually sure-handed defender also committed two errors on Friday night.
The 24-year-old has also dealt with off-the-field issues this season as his infant son suddenly died in July, and Roenicke noted the importance of keeping tabs on Segura's mindset.
"I talked to him the other day. He said everything is fine," Roenicke said. "He's going to go through some times when he's kind of a little moody, which you understand. It's hard. He's not playing as well as he thinks he should. I told him when I see things, that I will give him a day."
• Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez's two homers in two at-bats on Saturday night were his first since July 11, a span of 66 at-bats. They were Alvarez's 16th and 17th home runs of the season.
• Despite the Brewers winning 10 of the first 15 games against the Pirates this season, with Saturday's win, the Bucs are outscoring the Brewers this season, 67-65.
• Both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh have 18 wins since the All-Star break.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.