Brewers score 12 to remain in winning groove

Milwaukee (AP) -- The Milwaukee Brewers pounded out 15 hits in the team's 12-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night. But after the game, all anyone wanted to talk about was Bill Hall's defense in the first inning.

The Pirates had grabbed a 1-0 lead and had the basees loaded. With two runners moving on a 3-2 pitch, Steve Pearce -- in his first major league at-bat -- hit a long drive off Brewers pitcher Dave Bush to right-center that Hall made a diving catch of at the warning track.

"It was the play of the game," Bush said. "It saved me two runs. It was an outstanding play."

Hall said he was playing toward left field and didn't think the ball was going to carry that far.

"Starting out, I didn't think it would be a tough play, but the ball kept going," said Hall, who was switched to center field this season after starting his career as an infielder. "But I was able to get there and get us into the dugout."

Brewers manager Ned Yost said Hall's catch set the tone for the team, which scored its most runs since July 27, a 12-2 win over the Cardinals.

"It really got everyone fired up," Yost said. "I thought Billy had no chance to catch that ball. It was a huge play."

Hall, the Brewers' starting center fielder for most of the season, has been platooning in recent weeks because of his struggles at the plate. Coming into the game, he was batting just .211 with three home runs since coming off the disabled list July 25 and had gone hitless in his last 14 at-bats.

But on Saturday, he added a two-run double in the second inning, a sacrifice fly in the third inning and an RBI single in the fifth inning.

He said he had changed his batting stance to try and shake his batting slump.

"I calmed my swing down and simplified it," he said. "I'm just trying to get to the hitting position as quickly and smoothly as possible. And it worked for me tonight."

The Brewers remained 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, and have won three of four after a five-game skid. The Cubs beat the Houston Astros 4-3 earlier in the day.

Bush (11-9) gave up one run and four hits to win for only the second time in six starts. Prince Fielder added three hits, and Corey Hart and Kevin Mench hit back-to-back home runs.

"It was a nice game all around for us," Yost said. "I believe we are really starting to get on a roll."

Shane Youman (3-5) lasted only two-plus innings. After retiring the side in the first, he gave up five runs in the second and three in the third.

The Brewers broke the game open in the second, sending nine batters to the plate. After Fielder and Hart walked, Mench singled to load the bases, and Johnny Estrada and Hall each drove in a pair of runs.

J.J. Hardy drove in the final run of the inning with a two-out single.

"Obviously what fueled the second inning was the back-to-back walks to start the inning and a couple bloop hits," he said. "We simply got pitched out of the game early on."

Youman said the leadoff walk in the second inning was his biggest mistake.

"They're a good team, fighting for a playoff spot," he said. "They're gonna take advantage of every opportunity."

Mench's two-run double and Hall's sacrifice fly in the third stretched the lead to 8-1, and Hall added an RBI single in the fifth.

Sanchez's RBI single in the seventh inning trimmed the Brewers lead to 9-2. But Hart hit his 19th homer of the season, a two-run shot, and Mench followed with his seventh of the year to make it 12-2.

Game notes
Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche left the game after fouling a pitch off his knee in the fifth inning. The Pirates announced he had a left knee contusion and would be day-to-day. ... Pearce, who was promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game, made his first major league start in right field and got his first hit in the third inning when he singled. ... Brewers outfielder Mel Stocker, who was called up from Double-A Huntsville on Saturday, made his big league debut when he entered the game in the eighth inning in right field.