Pirates close gap in NL Central in Starling Marte’s return from suspension

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte returned from an 80-game PED suspension Tuesday night to help his team take down the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 at PNC Park.

Marte went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single, while Josh Harrison and Francisco Cervelli broke down Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra with home runs in the sixth inning. Pittsburgh has now won nine of its last 11 games, to come within five games of the National-League-Central-leading Brewers.

For Milwaukee, it marks the squad’s third straight loss, as the Chicago Cubs climb to within 2 ½ games of the division lead. Some timely hitting could have helped the Brewers maintain their distance, only able to scratch across three runs on 13 hits against the Pirates. During their three-game losing streak, the Brewers are 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

‘You’ve got to get hits with runners in scoring position,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Some nights you’re not going to get them. The last couple nights, we’ve gotten guys on — just unable to get that next hit.”

While he sounded composed in the post-game press conference, Counsell lost his composure in the eighth inning over a called strike against third baseman Travis Shaw. Counsell’s disagreement with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski resulted in an ejection.

Milwaukee can split the four-game series with Pittsburgh by winning the final two games. Zach Davies starts opposite Gerrit Cole during Wednesday’s game at 6:05 p.m. CT.