MILWAUKEE -- Yovani Gallardo was way more fired up about escaping a big jam than he was about his second career homer.
The rookie right-hander pitched seven sharp innings and went deep in the fourth inning, helping the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Friday night to inch closer in the NL Central race.
"He got into trouble in the seventh and got out of it," Brewers outfielder Gabe Gross said. "And he hits the homer, pretty much the game winner. We're probably still playing right now if he doesn't hit that homer. He's kind of an all-around hero."
Gallardo (6-4) allowed five hits and two runs for Milwaukee, which pulled within 1 ½ games of division-leading Chicago. After taking two of three games from the Brewers earlier this week, the Cubs lost to Houston 6-1 Friday afternoon.
Derrick Turnbow pitched a scoreless eighth, and Francisco Cordero got three outs to earn his 38th save in 44 chances and complete the six-hitter.
Brewers manager Ned Yost said he hoped Gallardo's performance would help his struggling team regain some momentum.
"That was big to scratch and claw out a win like there like we did," Yost said. "We've got a month left -- have to keep banging away, get on a roll."
Gallardo cruised through the first six innings, allowing his only run on a solo homer by Adam LaRoche in the fourth.
He then allowed back-to-back singles to LaRoche and Xavier Nady to lead off the seventh, and the Brewers couldn't turn a double play off a grounder to third by Jason Bay to put runners on first and third with one out. Ronny Paulino doubled in LaRoche to cut the Brewers' lead to 3-2.
Gallardo issued an intentional walk to Jack Wilson to load the bases, then got Josh Phelps -- who came into the game 6-for-12 with two homers as a pinch hitter in August -- to strike out looking. Then he struck out Nate McLouth on a 94-mph fastball to end the inning.
"I was pretty excited," Gallardo said of his home run. "But I was a lot more excited about getting those two outs in the seventh."
Pirates manager Jim Tracy said Gallardo saved his best for last.
"He found a little bit different gear, because those might have been some of the best pitches that he threw during the course of the seven innings that he was out there," Tracy said. "And there were some good ones prior to it, but he went to a little bit different level for those two outs there."
Gallardo has shown talent but has been inconsistent since being called up from Triple-A Nashville to join the Brewers' rotation June 18.
His homer was anything but a cheap shot. Gallardo pounded a 1-0 pitch from Pirates starter Tony Armas high and deep over the fence in left-center, with the ball landing in a canopy above the Brewers' bullpen.
Armas (2-5) gave up three runs and four hits in six innings for the Pirates, who have lost three straight.
"Tony gave us a start with a chance to win, and we were in position to possibly do that," Tracy said. "You can't ask for much more."
Armas said giving up a home run to a pitcher wasn't any worse than giving up a normal home run.
"Not really," Armas said. "He's doing his job."
Gallardo is the third pitcher ever to hit multiple home runs in a season for the Brewers, who played in the American League until 1998. Brooks Kieschnick hit three home runs as a pitcher in 2003 and Scott Karl homered twice as a pitcher in 1999.
Gallardo's other home run came in Arizona last week, off of former Brewers starter Doug Davis.
Milwaukee LHP Manny Parra was placed on the 15-day disabled list after sustaining a chip fracture in his left thumb Thursday night. RHP Greg Aquino was recalled from Nashville to take Parra's spot on the roster. ... The Brewers expect to recall utility player Vinny Rottino and RHP Carlos Villanueva from Nashville, purchase the contracts of RHP Chris Spurling and LHP Mitch Stetter from Nashville, purchase the contract of OF Mel Stocker from Double-A Huntsville and transfer 3B Corey Koskie to the 60-day disabled list as part of their September callups. ... Pirates LHP Zach Duke is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis Saturday, and Tracy said he would consider putting Duke back in the rotation as early as Thursday's game at St. Louis. ... Tracy said the Pirates would add LHP Juan Perez, 1B Steven Pearce and OF Nyjer Morgan on Saturday as part of their callups. Pirates OF Chris Duffy, who underwent shoulder surgery Friday, will be placed on the 60-day disabled list.