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April 12, 2014

Hot Brewers sink Pirates

Milwaukee — Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer that backed Wily Peralta, and the Milwaukee Brewers extended their winning streak to seven with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Francisco Liriano befuddled the Brewers with his slider over the first three innings before Ramirez sent a 1-2 fastball over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

At 8-2 on the year, the Brewers are off to their best start since opening with 13 wins in 1987.

Peralta (1-0) allowed four hits in seven innings, but gave up a two-run homer to Neil Walker in the seventh.

Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in the ninth for his third save.

Liriano (0-2) struck out seven over six innings. He also gave up a homer in the fifth to Mark Reynolds.

Carlos Gomez added a two-out single in the fifth for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee has been an early-season surprise after sweeping through three-game sets at Boston and Philadelphia with a .320 batting average.

The formula of solid hitting and excellent starting pitching carried over into Friday after Peralta struck out four and got help from Reynolds with two nice plays at first on hard-hit shots.

Pittsburgh didn’t get a runner past second base until Walker homered in the seventh.

Andrew McCutchen had reached second twice on two-out steals, but Peralta retired cleanup hitter Pedro Alvarez each time to end the inning, including a strikeout on a slider in the sixth.

Milwaukee entered with a major league-leading 1.95 ERA, an impressive mark given that the team has played three games each in Fenway Park and Citizens Bank Park.

Brewers starters were at 2.44, with the bullpen had a minuscule major league-best 0.98.

That mark only improved after relievers Jim Henderson and Rodriguez shut down the Pirates in order during the final two innings.

Liriano dominated early, keeping hitters off balance with his slider.

He breezed through the first three innings with five strikeouts on 32 pitches.

Notes: The Pirates entered having started the season by winning three straight series for the first time since 1992. ... Pittsburgh is in the middle of a stretch in which it is starting the season with 26 straight games against NL Central foes. ... LHP Jeff Locke was reinstated from the 15-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.  Locke is recovering from a right oblique strain. ... CF Gomez is to be presented with his 2013 Gold Glove award in a ceremony before today’s game. ... The Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo (2-0) faces the Pirates’ Edinson Volquez (0-0) on the mound tonight.

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