MILWAUKEE — From Boston to Philadelphia and back home, the streaking Milwaukee Brewers continued their tear and beat the Pirates, 4-2, Friday night at Miller Park for a seventh consecutive win.
Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano faced an all right-handed lineup and was “superb through three innings before Aramis Ramirez swatted a two-run home run in the fourth and Mark Reynolds added a solo shot in the fifth.
Both were two-seam fastballs that stayed up and landed deep in left field — 421 feet and 440 feet away, to be exact.
“You can’t make too many mistakes in the big leagues,” Liriano said. “I was trying to go up and in, and I guess [went] middle in. I think I made two mistakes. [Otherwise,] I felt great. Everything was working down beside those two pitches.”
The Pirates got a two-run home run by Neil Walker in the seventh, and Andrew McCutchen stole his first two bases this season, but never came around to score.
McCutchen was removed from the game in the eighth with “discomfort in his ankle” according to the Pirates, but appeared to be walking normally afterwards when he went into the trainer’s room.
“He came to me after the last at-bat, when he came down to the dugout and said, ‘I think I did something to my ankle,’ ” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I got the trainer to look at him and didn’t think it was worth pressing on from there.
“That’s the last I saw him … I don’t have any information.”
Liriano sat the Brewers down in order for three innings, turning to his changeup on 15 of 32 pitches according to MLB’s gametracker.
Liriano said that is his usual mix.
“Typical. I was mixing my pitches. Trying to go up and in, down and away, use my slider and changeup,” he said.
But in the fourth, he walked Carlos Gomez to open the inning and, after getting two groundouts, gave up a home run to Ramirez on a 93-mph, two-seam fastball that made it 2-0 Brewers.
Liriano induced another grounder to end the inning and opened the fifth with a swinging strikeout.
But Reynolds homered on another two-seamer to make it 3-0.
Rickie Weeks followed with a double, and Gomez drove Weeks home with a hard single to left.
Liriano went six innings, gave up four hits, four earned runs, walked two, struck out seven and threw one wild pitch.
“It was just a fastball up that Ramirez covered,” Hurdle said. “Gomez laid off some balls to fight his way on base. The next inning he got a fastball up that Reynolds was able to cover. The first three innings it was vintage Frank.
“Fastball command, fastball in, the changeup, the slider for the wipeout pitch. It’s such a fine line on the mound sometimes.”
The Pirates finally made a little noise in the seventh when Russell Martin reached first on an error to start the inning, and Walker homered off Brewers starter Wily Peralta.
Peralta gave up four hits in seven innings for his first win this season. He walked two and struck out four.
The Pirates offense mostly struggled until Walker’s homer.
McCutchen drew a two-out walk in the first, stole second, but was stranded when Pedro Alvarez grounded to short.
Walker hit a one-out single in the second, but Travis Ishikawa hit into an inning-ending double play.
In the third, Jordy Mercer reached base on a hit-by-pitch, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Liriano and stayed there when Starling Marte struck out swinging and Travis Snider flied to left.
In the fourth, Martin singled with two outs but never advanced as Walker grounded out to first.
In the sixth, McCutchen reached first on a fielder’s choice, but was stranded when Alvarez struck out.
Bryan Morris pitched two innings of relief, giving up two of hits, but no runs. He struck out three.
“That’s big for me, especially early in the year. There were times last year when I had a hard time with this lineup,” Morris said.
“So that was good to get out of [Friday night].”
Morris fielded a grounder to third by Ryan Braun in the eighth, but fell while trying to spin, turn and make the play.
“It’s a hard play from either direction because Pedro is playing deep in that situation being late in the game and Braun up,” Morris said.
“It’s whoever can get to the ball first, and I got there first.”
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.
First Published April 11, 2014 10:56 PM