Corbin Burnes goes the deepest a Brewers starter has all season – 7⅔ innings – in a victory over the Blue Jays

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Brewers starter Corbin Burnes struck out nine Blue Jays batters Saturday.
Brewers starter Corbin Burnes struck out nine Blue Jays batters Saturday.

All arrows are once again pointing up for Corbin Burnes.

The right-hander turned in third consecutive terrific start on Saturday afternoon, mostly silencing the high-powered Toronto Blue Jays as the Milwaukee Brewers evened the teams' interleague series with a 5-4 victory at American Family Field.

Burnes went 7⅔ innings – the deepest start by a Brewers pitcher this season – and struck out nine while receiving some rare early breathing room from the offense.

"He’s been great in the vast majority of his starts," said manager Craig Counsell. "It’s a stopper. It’s length in the game. It’s zeroes.

"When you have a guy like that, you know when his turn is coming up that you’re going to get a really good effort and you’re going to get deep into a game and you’re going to get zeroes."

Burnes, whose start was his longest since he went eight innings Sept. 11 in combining with Josh Hader for the Brewers' second no-hitter in Cleveland, views his role on the staff a little more generally.

"I’m just going to go out and do my best to fill my role on the team and give these guys good innings and try to get a win," he said.

Box score: Brewers 5, Blue Jays 4

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Andrew McCutchen and Mike Brosseau each hit home runs as the Brewers scored all five of their runs in the opening three innings.

After being dominated by Alek Manoah in Friday's 9-4 loss, the Brewers' bats fared much better against soft-tossing lefty Yusei Kikuchi.

It all began with Willy Adames drawing a 12-pitch walk two batters into the first and later scoring on consecutive two-out singles by Luis Urías and Tyrone Taylor.

Milwaukee left the bases loaded in the first but Kikuchi threw 40 pitches in the process, helping set up what came next.

Keston Hiura reached and advanced to second on a Bo Bichette throwing error to open the Milwaukee second and then with two outs, Adames lined a single to center to score him.

On the next pitch, McCutchen lined a two-run homer just over the fence down the left-field line to double the Brewers' lead to 4-0.

A leadoff homer by Brosseau in the third made it 5-0 and ended Kikuchi's day.

"You spot a guy like that a lead, and you feel like he’s going to take it from there. And he did," said Counsell. "Where he got us in the game was so important, and it affects tomorrow’s game.

"That’s what great starters do –  they get so deep into the game they affect the next couple days’ games."

Burnes mostly breezed through the first four innings, allowing a single and a walk while also hitting a batter, before surrendering his first run on a Matt Chapman leadoff homer in the fifth.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed with a double and came in to score two batters later, but Burnes limited the damage to the two runs.

A ground-ball double play erased a one-out walk in the sixth and a 1-2-3 seventh left Burnes at 93 pitches.

Counsell rolled with Burnes to start the eighth and after recording the first two outs, he allowed a homer to center by Bichette that left Devin Williams to begin warming up in earnest.

After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with an infield hit, Burnes was done and exited to a standing ovation from the crowd of 34,768.

"Early on we were able to get in the zone enough to get some outs and then second time through the order they helped me out by swinging a lot more," Burnes said. "We were kind of all over the place with everything, then really two lazy 0-0 pitches that were hit out for homers.

"Other than that, it was pretty good overall."

Burnes was asked how badly he wanted to complete eight innings.

"About as bad as I want to get through nine," he said. "Every time – that’s my goal when I get out there. They helped me out second time through the order, started swinging a lot more to help keep the pitch count down.

"But my goal is get through nine every time."

What if Burnes had retired Bichette with his pitch count right around 100? Would Counsell have given him a shot at Milwaukee's first complete game since Adrian Houser last season?

Counsell wouldn't answer the hypothetical question. But Burnes did, in his own way.

"I mean, I’m not telling anyone that I’m ready to come out of the game," he said. "So, we’ll leave it at that."

Burnes (6-4) allowed five hits, the three runs and two walks while striking out nine over 105 pitches to give him his fourth straight game of eight or more as he regained the major-league lead with 119.

Of the Brewers' 11 starts of seven innings or more this season, Burnes has recorded seven.

Williams struck out the only batter he faced to strand Guerrero and run his scoreless appearances streak to 18 (17⅓ innings). Hader followed by working out of a tight spot in the ninth.

Matt Chapman doubled and Gurriel singled with two outs to make it 5-4, but Hader retired Gabriel Moreno on a weak grounder to end it and record his 22nd save.

Chi Chi González starts the series finale Sunday, after which the Brewers will have firm plans for the re-insertion of Brandon Woodruff into the rotation as they embark on a two-city, six-game road trip to Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

"It’ll be nice," said Burnes. "Woody’s been feeling good. His rehab starts have been electric. So, it’ll be nice to see him back out there."

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Corbin Burnes's 7⅔-inning gem leads Milwaukee Brewers past Blue Jays