PITTSBURGH -- Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver always argued the easiest way to win any game was getting frequent visits from Dr. Longball. No doubt Weaver loves these take 'em-deep Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers homer like no other team in the majors, not even the powerful Yankees, and they're in first place because of it.
Prince Fielder hit his 44th home run and Corey Hart also connected to support Yovani Gallardo's six shutout innings, helping the Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Tuesday night for one of their infrequent victories in PNC Park.
Ryan Braun drove in three runs as the Brewers assured themselves of at least staying tied with Chicago for the NL Central lead -- the Cubs were playing in Houston.
Milwaukee ended a four-game losing streak in Pittsburgh. The Brewers are 8-1 at home against Pittsburgh, but they had lost 13 of 17 and 41 of 60 in PNC Park, easily the worst record of any opposing team.
"This was a big game, for us to win here," manager Ned Yost said.
Gallardo (8-4) checked the Pirates on six singles while winning his third in a row and fourth in five decisions. He has permitted the Pirates only one run in 13 innings over two winning starts since Aug. 31, and three runs over 20 innings in his last three starts.
"It's a huge game, every game from here on out is going to be very important," the 21-year-old Gallardo said. "I put that in mind and try to go out and do the best I can."
A night after failing to advance a runner past second base in a 9-0 loss to the Pirates, the Brewers again turned to the home run to win their ninth in 13 games.
The solo drives by Fielder, who leads the NL, and Hart were Milwaukee's 202nd and 203rd, the most in the majors. The Reds are the only other team to reach even the 190-homer mark.
Here's how important Dr. Longball is to the Brewers: Of their 144 games, they've won only eight when they didn't homer. When they homer at least once, they are 17 games above .500 at 66-49.
"Whenever we score first, we're pretty good," Fielder said of another key Brewers stat, their 48-27 record when they take the initial lead. "That was pretty good, to get ahead first and try to get something started from there."
Especially with a lineup with so much power from top to bottom.
Fielder is only two homers away from setting a single-season club record. And the Brewers are only the second team in major league history to have four players with at least 20 homers who are 25 or younger: Fielder, Hart, Braun and J.J. Hardy. The 1979 Expos also accomplished it.
Getting ahead with all those homers, Rickie Weeks said, "Puts a lot of pressure on the other team, and it allows the pitcher to settle down and throw strikes and just get us some innings."
Weeks had three hits, reached four times and scored twice, starting a three-run sixth with a leadoff walk.
Milwaukee hit line drive after line drive for the first three innings against former No. 1 draft pick Bryan Bullington in his second career start, but didn't score after twice hitting into double plays.
Fielder's drive deep into the right-field seats with one out in the fourth finally got them going, and the Brewers chased Bullington (0-2) on Gabe Gross' RBI double and Bryan's run-scoring single in the sixth.
"There were some good things, but some bad things," Bullington said. "I got some pitches up in the zone. I felt like my stuff was fine, but I left a curveball up to Fielder. The sixth was big because that walk really hurt me and set the tone for the inning."
Hart's 21st homer came a batter after Bullington was replaced by left-hander John Grabow.
Bullington's pitching line wasn't great -- five-plus innings, seven hits, three runs -- but it was a big improvement over his 16-4 loss Thursday to St. Louis in which he yielded seven runs and seven hits in three innings. However, Milwaukee's five line-drive outs while he was on the mound showed he wasn't fooling many batters.
Gallardo was much better, walking three but striking out seven. The Pirates advanced a runner as far as third only once against him, loading the bases in the fourth before Ronny Paulino grounded into a double play.
Pirates reliever Salomon Torres, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day after being out for three weeks with right elbow pain, gave up Braun's two-run single in the seventh.
- The Pirates (64-81) are one loss away from a 15th consecutive losing season, one short of the major league record.
- Despite their poor record in Pittsburgh, the Brewers are 10-5 against the Pirates this season.
- Richie Sexson (2003, 2001) and Gorman Thomas (1979) share Milwaukee's single-season record of 45 homers.
- Adam LaRoche had two singles and is 5-for-7 against Gallardo.
- Gallardo doubled in the third for his fourth extra-base hit in 34 at-bats. He has a .294 average.