Baseball / Sports

Ramirez hits two-run shot to power Brewers past Pirates for seventh victory in a row

MILWAUKEE -- Home or road -- it doesn't much matter to these Milwaukee Brewers right now.

Fresh off their impressive trip out East, the Brewers continued their hot play in their return to Miller Park on Friday night.

Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds each homered to power the offense, Wily Peralta turned in a strong seven-inning start and the bullpen again did the job with a scoreless eighth and ninth in a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the Brewers' seventh consecutive triumph as they improved to 8-2. They're off to their best start since opening the 1987 season on that memorable 13-0 run.

"It's fun," said Reynolds. "It's always fun when you're winning. It takes care of a lot of things. But it's a marathon and not a sprint. We can't control yesterday, we can't control tomorrow. We have to play the game that is now and worry about that day."

Things didn't look good early for Milwaukee against left-hander Francisco Liriano, who faced the minimum over the first three innings. Carlos Gomez finally drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fourth to give the Brewers their first base-runner.

"His slider's nasty, his changeup's nasty and he spots his fastball well," said manager Ron Roenicke.

"It's really hard to see those pitches. He's got great arm speed with them, he's usually down in the zone with them and his fastball's got enough on it where you can't look off-speed because you won't catch up. He's really a good pitcher."

After a pair of groundouts, Liriano had Ramirez behind in the count, 1-2, before leaving a fastball up that Ramirez hammered out to left to put the Brewers ahead, 2-0.

"Aramis continues to give us the big hits," Roenicke said. "People on base, the guy is pretty amazing. We're cruising along there, looking like we're not going to get any hits, and the next thing you know he gets a hold of one and hits it out and gives us a couple (runs)."

Ramirez improved to 8 for 11 with runners in scoring position (.727).

"I would say that's part of my job," said Ramirez, who leads the team with a .395 average and is tied with Ryan Braun with 10 RBI.

"I'm a cleanup hitter driving in runs. I have to concentrate a little harder when I have guys in scoring position."

Milwaukee tacked on two more runs in the fifth against Liriano. Reynolds crushed a solo homer to left to provide the first one, with Gomez singling in Rickie Weeks with two outs to make it 4-0.

Peralta, meanwhile, was cruising along until a throwing error by Ramirez on a ground ball from Russell Martin to open the seventh. That set the stage for a two-out homer to right-center by Neil Walker that cut the Brewers' lead in half.

Peralta (1-0) limited the damage to those two runs, however, and was lifted after that seventh after allowing four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts in a 100-pitch outing.

Milwaukee starting pitchers have allowed three or fewer earned runs in 24 consecutive games, which is a franchise record. The streak began last Sept. 16 against the Chicago Cubs with Peralta on the mound.

Brewers starters have a collective 2.31 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a .221 average.

"Liriano is a tough pitcher," said Peralta. "We were able to get some runs to give me the lead early, and I was able to set the tone after that and put some zeros on the board."

Jim Henderson retired Pittsburgh in order in the eighth, twice reaching 96 mph on his fastball in striking out Travis Snider as he continued his resurgence. Francisco Rodriguez then struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to record his third save and help continue the team's momentum.

"Everything's clicking," said Roenicke. "We'll just continue to grind this thing out the best we can. We're doing a lot of good things that give us the opportunity to win these ball games."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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