Baseball / Sports

Brewers complete 6-0 road trip

PHILADELPHIA -- Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez succinctly summed up his team's first trip of the season.

"We're doing everything right. That's why we're winning," Ramirez said.

The Brewers continued to do whatever it takes to win Thursday night, pulling away from Philadelphia for a 6-2 triumph to complete a 6-0 trip that began with a three-game sweep in Boston.

In boosting their overall record to 7-2, the Brewers completed their first undefeated trip of at least six games since they went 7-0 in San Francisco and St. Louis coming out of the all-star break in 2008. They are off to their best start since they went 7-2 to open the 1998 season.

"Let's keep it up," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "Great pitching again, big hits. The bullpen is coming in and doing a great job. Everything is working."

The Brewers batted .320 (78 for 244) on the trip and scored 42 runs, compared to their .184 average and four runs in the season-opening series against Atlanta. They lead the major leagues with a 1.95 earned run average, including the best bullpen ERA (0.98).

It's not going to be easy to play better than this, and the Brewers won't have to do so to have a banner season. They compiled 38 hits in the three games against the Phillies and outscored them, 25-10, dominating the series.

"It was a pretty good road trip," said starter Marco Estrada, who out-pitched Philly ace Cliff Lee with six strong innings (five hits, two runs, two walks, six strikeouts). "To go in to Boston and sweep the 2013 champs, that was a great series. And to come in against Philly, a tough team, and do the same, it was just well-played overall.

"It's the way you want to do it. We're hitting; we're pitching. It's a little tougher to do on the road, but we did it. It just shows you what kind of team we have. We're a pretty good team."

The Brewers knew they'd have their hands full with Lee even though he had been less than sharp in his first two outings (21 hits in 12 innings, 6.00 ERA). When Lee struck out the side in the second and Marlon Byrd gave him a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning with a booming homer off Estrada, the Brewers faced a stiff test.

Ryan Braun (10 RBI in the series) continued to frustrate the renown Philly boo-birds with a leadoff single in the fourth inning and raced around to score on Ramirez's ringing double to center. Khris Davis, who drove in two of the three runs Lee allowed in six innings, singled to right to put the Brewers ahead to stay.

As they did throughout the trip, the Brewers tacked on late runs to pull away. Carlos Gomez (3 for 5) continued his road rampage (.452 batting average) with an RBI single in the seventh, followed by another run-scoring hit by Jean Segura and Braun's sacrifice fly.

"It's always important to add on," said Roenicke. "If you score early and you never do anything afterward, it always gets scary at the end. But we're scoring some early and then we get in those late innings and we're adding on to where we're getting a comfortable lead."

In picking up his first victory of the season, Estrada stayed in control until the sixth, when he struck out the first two hitters before allowing the Phillies to load the bases. Byrd drove in a run with an infield hit, but Estrada induced Domonic Lee to fly out to center to keep the Brewers on top.

"I started throwing pitches that I shouldn't have," said Estrada. "I tried to do maybe too much that inning and it cost me. I could have been back out there for the seventh, because we had two quick outs, and it kind of got away from me.

"That was the most frustrating part of the day, but luckily I got out of it with hardly any damage."

Tyler Thornburg, Will Smith and Francisco Rodriguez covered the last three innings out of a bullpen that has been lights out, and the Brewers headed back to Milwaukee for a home stand against NL Central rivals Pittsburgh and St. Louis to see if they can keep their banner start going.

"It was kind of a whole team effort on this trip," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who doubled in the sixth and scored on another by Davis. "Hopefully, we can keep it going.

"We've got some momentum. We're pretty confident in ourselves. We've got to keep it going. You can't let your foot off the gas."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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