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PIT@MIL: Aramis's two-run dinger opens the scoring

MILWAUKEE -- Easter Sunday isn't for another week, but it's not too early to start reminiscing about Team Streak.

The Milwaukee Brewers won their seventh consecutive game Friday, bringing their road show home for a 4-2 victory over the Pirates under the dome at Miller Park. At 8-2, Milwaukee is off to its best start since the Team Streak contingent of 1987, which opened the year 13-0 and won its 12th of 13 games to open the year on a dramatic Easter Sunday performance, going on to win 17 of its first 18 contests in 1987.

The Brewers used the all-facets-clicking formula that allowed them to sweep six games in Boston and Philadelphia over the past week, picking up an excellent pitching performance from right-hander Wily Peralta and plating runs with timely hits. Two of the biggest were majestic home runs by Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds.

"It's always fun when you're winning," Reynolds said. "It takes care of a lot of things, but it's a marathon, not a sprint. You can't control what you can't control. You have to play tomorrow, you have to play the games [in the] now."

The homers broke the early spell cast by Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, and Peralta allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits in seven innings for his first win of the season.

The lefty Liriano had his way with Milwaukee's exclusively right-handed lineup through the first turn, sending the first nine down in order before Carlos Gomez led off the fourth with a walk. With two outs, Ramirez ended Liriano's no-hit bid with a two-run shot to left field, moving him to a mind-boggling 8-for-11 on the year with runners in scoring position.

"That's part of my job," Ramirez said. "They pay me to drive in runs, so I have to concentrate a little harder in that position. … We need runs so Wily can relax out there and throw a good ballgame. Liriano, we all know what kind of pitcher he is, and we took advantage of some mistakes."

Ramirez has hit safely in 9-of-10 games this season and has at least one RBI in eight of those games.

Reynolds hit a home run to deep left in the fifth, and Gomez kept swinging a hot bat with a two-out RBI single to give Milwaukee a 4-0 lead.

"He was keeping us off balance with a changeup and slider and mixing in fastballs," Reynolds said. "The next time through the order, he tried to get ahead with the heater, and we were just ready for it."

Peralta took care of the rest, though a Ramirez error in the seventh proved costly when Neil Walker launched a two-run home run for Pittsburgh one batter later.

"He was more effective against right-handers because slider came more into play," Walker said. "Yeah, I got a pitch up … I thought we had a pretty good gameplan, but he kept the ball down for most part in 90s."

A crucial junction came in the sixth, when Peralta fell behind Andrew McCutchen with a runner on and one out, 3-0, then battled back and induced a fielder's-choice groundout on a 3-2 slider. His 3-2 slider to Pedro Alvarez one batter later netted an inning-ending strikeout.

"It's gotten better," Peralta said of the slider. "Early in Spring Training, that's the pitch I've been working on. Finally, I did it. I have confidence in it and throwing it whatever count I want to. That's great for me."

Brewers starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 24 straight games dating back to last year, which is a franchise record, according to STATS, Inc.

"The command with the ball … when he knows it's coming out well, he gets confidence," manager Ron Roenicke said of Peralta. "That's not to say he can't get in there in the fourth, fifth or sixth inning and all of a sudden lose it again, but usually when it's good in that first inning, [it stays good]. At times, [the slider] was outstanding. The one he threw to Alvarez was great; he buried it inside down below his hands. To McCutchen, he's throwing 96, 97, you have to gear up for it and he drops a slider on the plate, it's hard to lay off of."

McCutchen, the reigning National League MVP, left the game in the eighth with ankle discomfort.

Francisco Rodriguez notched his third save and did so in dominant fashion, striking out all three batters he faced. He's allowed one baserunner in five appearances and none since an Opening Day single by Justin Upton, with 11 strikeouts in just five innings of work.

Safe to say, K-Rod has locked up the closer's role.

"Right now, as well as he's thrown, until I see something different, I like what he's doing," Roenicke said.

Rodriguez, now with 307 career saves, needs three more to tie Hall of Famer Goose Gossage for 20th place all-time on the Major League list.

"He's got weapons out there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Got three strikeouts, and any time your closer does that, you're gonna leave with a good taste. He's learned how to pitch. He's a smart guy and made some adjustments. He's definitely back in play."

Milwaukee pulled to within two victories of last April's nine-game winning streak, a stretch that marked the longest such run for the club since 2003. Comments