There was a time earlier in the season when a three-run deficit in the early going would be an obstacle too great to overcome for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Those were the bad old days. Over the past few weeks, the Brewers have been a different team, as the Pittsburgh Pirates can attest.

Rallying from a 3-0 first-inning hole that was mostly of their own making, the Brewers toppled the Pirates for the second consecutive game Saturday night, 8-5, at Miller Park.

"I was really proud of the guys tonight," manager Craig Counsell said after the last-place Brewers won for the 15th time in 21 games. "We didn't get off to a good start but we played a good game the rest of the game."

In their annual tribute to the Negro Leagues, the Brewers wore replica uniforms of the 1923 Milwaukee Bears. They then went out in the top of the first inning and played like the Bad News Bears.

Starter Jimmy Nelson didn't retire any of the first six hitters he faced, allowing four hits, a walk and a hit batter. Toss in a run-scoring wild pitch and a couple of errors and you had to wonder if this was going to be one of those games the Brewers played often during the early months of the season.

As strange as it might sound, the Brewers actually took some momentum out of that inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Ryan Braun caught Francisco Cervelli's fly to medium right and threw out Starling Marte trying to tag and score from third base.

Nelson then struck out Jordy Mercer and what could have been a football score didn't look so daunting at 3-0.

"I thought Braun's play gave us some energy," said Counsell. "They had the bases loaded with nobody out and three runs on the board. It didn't start out well but we came out of it feeling pretty good, actually."

Two things happened afterward that turned the game. Nelson buckled down and didn't allow another run until the seventh inning. Part II was the Brewers' offense going to work against Pirates right-hander Vance Worley, thrust into the fray when scheduled starter Francisco Liriano was scratched before the game with neck stiffness.