MILWAUKEE -- Yuniesky Betancourt has been one of the best hitters in the National League for the past few weeks.
Betancourt, who homered for the only run in Milwaukee's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, started to get hot in mid-June and was batting .337 since June 20 entering Sunday, the second-highest average in the NL in that span (Daniel Murphy of the Mets is at .368).
"He's driving in runs, had a big homer last night," manager Ron Roenicke said. "A lot of hard outs, too. He's not chasing as many breaking balls down in the dirt like he was earlier. He is doing a lot of things offensively where you can say why he's improving."
Betancourt said he cleared his mind during the All-Star break. It's seemed to work, as the shortstop has batted .374 (37-99) since then entering Sunday.
Manager Ron Roenicke held Betancourt out of the starting lineup for consecutive games July 16-17.
"Right after that, he took off," Roenicke said.
Weeks fields grounders for first time since injury
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks took grounders at second base Sunday for the first time since sustaining a severe left ankle sprain on July 27.
First-base coach Garth Iorg hit grounders directly at Weeks -- so he didn't have to move left or right -- and the second baseman did remarkably well, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"I was really surprised that he's moving around that well," Roenicke said. "He looked normal fielding ground balls. He was catching it. He was sliding his feet in front of him. He's farther along than we thought he was."
Weeks wore a brace on the ankle.
"We'll see how it goes once he starts running on it," Roenicke said. "He still hasn't run yet."
The Brewers manager said he expected the final hurdle for Weeks would be to move to his left in fielding grounders.
Roenicke said there still was no timetable for the All-Star second baseman's return, and he said he was unsure whether Weeks would go on a rehab assignment before suiting up for the Brewers.
Brewers thriving in one-run contests
MILWAUKEE -- With Saturday's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh, the Brewers improved to 25-15 in one-run games.
"For one, it says our pitching staff is good," manager Ron Roenicke said. "If you don't have a good pitching staff, you don't play many one-run games. It's just the way it is. They're usually not 10-9 or 8-7. When the run total is down, you're going to play a lot of one-run games."
The Brewers' team ERA was 3.79 entering Sunday, eighth in the 16-team National League.
Since mid-June, the Brewers are 10-2 in one-run games.
"Early in the season, especially on the road, we were losing a lot of those one-run games," Roenicke said. "It's nice to see."
Frankie, Axford quite the late-innings combo
MILWAUKEE -- The combination of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford has proven to be highly successful since Rodriguez was obtained from the New York Mets at the All-Star break.
Axford has converted 31 consecutive saves and 34 of 36 heading into Sunday's game against the Pirates. Rodriguez, pitching primarily in the eighth inning, has only allowed runs in two of the 14 games he's pitched for the Brewers.
"I feel like I'm on a pretty good roll right now," Axford said. "Anytime we can get the ball to us, I feel, in the eighth and the ninth, it's going to be a pretty hard fight for the other team."
When asked whether he and Rodriguez were the toughest late-innings tandem in the Major Leagues, Axford said: "You hear it sometimes, the guys in the bullpen even try to talk to us about that."
"When you have an eighth-inning guy who has a record in saves of 62 in a season and just under 300 [in his career], he's pitched in some huge games," Axford said of Rodriguez. "He can handle the pressures of any situation out there."
Joe DiGiovanni is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.