Giving the ball to Edinson Volquez may put the Brewers even closer to the brink of elimination.While Martin tries to remain hot, Volquez attempts to keep himself unbeaten for an 11th straight game Saturday night against the fading Brewers.Martin is hitting .359 with three homers and 14 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak, one shy of his season high. The three-time All-Star catcher got closer to that mark in style Friday, connecting for a three-run shot as Pittsburgh (83-70) scored four in the eighth to rally for a 4-2 win over Milwaukee (79-75)."It's hard to be happier than that," said Martin, whose homer did more than give the Pirates an advantage on the scoreboard and a 12th win in 14 games, including a season-high five in a row.It moved them 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers for the second wild-card spot with nine left in the regular season -- one more than Milwaukee.Pittsburgh also has a game in hand on St. Louis, which it trails by 2 1/2 games for the NL Central lead.Martin will likely have a say in getting the Pirates closer to the playoffs since he's batting .372 with 13 RBIs in 12 season meetings with the Brewers, going 10 for 24 while plating 10 runs in seven home games.Like Martin, Volquez (12-7, 3.27 ERA) is trying to keep a streak of his own going, as he's unbeaten in his past 10 starts and 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA in the last eight.The right-hander, though, needed some help to maintain that run in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. He gave up three runs -- two on his throwing error in the second inning -- before leaving after the seventh with five walks.Volquez also had to battle through his last meeting with the Brewers on Aug. 23, throwing 104 pitches in 5 2/3 innings while giving up two runs and a season-high 11 hits in a 10-2 road victory.He's 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts against Milwaukee in a Pirates uniform.The Brewers, who once held a 9 1/2-game lead on Pittsburgh for a playoff position, have dropped 20 of 28 games and 11 of 12 on the road behind a .210 batting average and 5.01 ERA.Matt Garza (8-8, 3.74) contributed to that bloated mark by surrendering six runs in three innings of a 6-2 road defeat to the Cubs on Sept. 3, his return from a month-long stint on the disabled list due to a left oblique strain.The right-hander has been better in two home starts since, allowing three runs -- two earned -- with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. He yielded one run in six innings of Sunday's 9-2 win over Cincinnati."I've felt fine since I've come back. It's just that the ball was down better (Sunday) and we made some great plays," Garza said.Garza is 2-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five career starts at Pittsburgh, allowing three runs with five walks in six innings opposite Volquez on June 7.He's also held Martin to one hit in nine at-bats while striking him out three times.
Josh Harrison (.359) and Neil Walker (.342) are among the top-15 qualified hitters this season in average in at-bats to end in a fastball. Matt Garza has thrown the seventh-highest percentage of fastballs this season among qualified pitchers (67.4 percent).