Just like his teammates, Yovani Gallardo is well aware of how important it is for the Milwaukee Brewers to play well to start the second half of the season.

On Sunday afternoon he pitched like it, striking out a career-high 14 against just four hits to lead the Brewers to a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.

The Pirates managed their lone run on a solo homer by National League most valuable player front-runner Andrew McCutchen in the fourth inning.

Other than that, it was a whole lot of swing and miss for Pittsburgh, which came into Milwaukee in sole possession of the NL Central Division lead but dropped two of three to the Brewers.