Milwaukee Brewers get back on the winning track with 5-2 win over Pittsburgh

The Brewers’ Eric Thames celebrates as he reaches home plate after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

MILWAUKEE — Big hits and solid pitching can keep the Milwaukee Brewers in the playoff hunt. Manager Craig Counsell got both of them against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Eric Thames hit his 29th home run, Domingo Santana went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and the Brewers beat the Pirates 5-2.

“For us to do something pretty special, (Thames) is one of the guys we need a good three weeks from,” Counsell said. “He is certainly capable of it, and tonight was a good start.”

Thames’ home run snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak and helped erase Monday night’s 7-0 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Brewers remained 2 1/2 games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who beat the New York Mets 8-3.

The Brewers' Eric Thames celebrates after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

“We are in a playoff hunt,” Thames said. “It is not like we are 15, 20 games out. We are right there. The energy is high in this dugout. Just got to keep it rolling.”

And, rolling they were against Gerrit Cole.

Cole (11-10) took his first loss in 10 road starts since the Atlanta Braves beat him 5-2 on May 22.

Santana’s two-run double highlighted the Brewers’ four-run third.

After Ryan Braun drove in a run with a fielder’s choice, an intentional walk set up the force at any base. Santana foiled the move with his first hit. Thames added the last run with a sharp liner to right that beat the shift. Santana failed to slide coming home on the play and was an easy out.