The surprising Milwaukee Brewers found a groove at the plate during their best opening road swing since a memorable unbeaten run 27 years ago.
Now the Brewers will try to continue their scoring surge back home against two of the National League’s top pitching staffs.
Milwaukee is hoping to stretch its longest winning streak in almost a year to seven games Friday night when it opens a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After scoring four times and hitting .184 while dropping two of three to Atlanta at Miller Park, the Brewers (7-2) pushed across 42 runs and batted .320 to sweep a six-game trip with stops at defending champion Boston and Philadelphia.
Carlos Gomez had three hits with an RBI, while Ryan Braun and Khris Davis added two hits apiece Thursday as Milwaukee closed out its best opening trip since a 6-0 run during the team’s 13-0 start in 1987.
Gomez batted 11 for 26 with two homers in the six games, while Braun went 8 for 16 with three home runs over the last four.
”It was kind of a whole team effort on this trip and we’re excited to keep it going,” said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who was 9 for 25 while hitting safely in every game.
The Brewers, however, could have a difficult time maintaining that production on a six-game homestand against Pittsburgh and St. Louis teams that finished in the top five in ERA en route to playoff appearances last season.
The Pirates (6-3) have a 3.17 ERA in 2014, but they also scored 17 times and hit seven homers while taking two of three at Wrigley Field with Thursday’s 5-4 win. Pedro Alvarez delivered a three-run shot to cap a decisive five-run seventh inning, leaving him 5 for 13 with three homers and seven RBIs in the series.
Andrew McCutchen, though, looks to turn things around after getting off to a 7 for 33 (.212) start. The 2013 NL MVP is batting .407 with four homers and nine RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak against the Brewers.
Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will try to pitch deeper into this contest after allowing five runs – two earned – over five innings of a 7-6, 11-inning win at Boston on Saturday. In his only career start against Pittsburgh, the right-hander gave up three hits and nine hits over six innings in a 9-3 home win last September.
McCutchen homered off Peralta in that matchup, while Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano (0-1, 3.00) was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in three innings. Prior to that defeat, the left-hander had been 6-2 with a 3.33 ERA in nine career starts against the Brewers.
Liriano will try to get back on track after allowing four runs – three in the first – and seven hits over six innings of a 6-1 home loss to St. Louis on Saturday.
"There have been a handful of (starts) where he hasn’t been (sharp) in the first inning,” manager Clint Hurdle said. ”But he settled down and looked like the guy we’ve seen the last year.”
Gomez has fared well with eight hits – two homers – in 16 career at-bats while facing Liriano. He’s also hitting .369 over his last 21 games against Pittsburgh.
The Brewers have dropped 12 of the last 17 meetings with the Pirates.