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Red-hot Brewers win ninth straight

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE -- Mere talent isn't enough to carry a team over the course of a 162-game season. Sometimes, a little luck is needed.

The Milwaukee Brewers, off to their best start since opening 13-0 in 1987, got a healthy dose of good fortune Sunday, capitalizing on a sixth-inning defensive lapse by the Pittsburgh Pirates to extend their winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 victory at Miller Park.

"I think anytime you play good baseball and are doing things right, you seem to get more breaks," Milwaukee manager Roenicke said. "When we're not playing well, I know it goes the other way. You see it all the time. Everything is going good."

With the Brewers up 2-1, Pittsburgh right-hander Charlie Morton got Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun to ground out to open the sixth before walking third baseman Aramis Ramirez. First baseman Lyle Overbay doubled, putting runners at first and third for second baseman Scooter Gennett.

Catcher Tony Sanchez dropped the ball on strike three to Gennett and his throw to first went way over the head of first baseman Travis Ishikawa, into the right field corner where Jose Tabata bobbled for just a second, allowing both Ramirez and Overbay to score and Gennett to reach third.

"I kind of rushed it," Sanchez said. "I butchered a routine play and that can't happen in that situation."

The three-run lead gave Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse enough of a cushion to cruise into the ninth inning, where he came within an out of a complete game. He held the Pirates to a run on four hits.

"I felt really good," said Lohse, who struck out nine and didn't walk a batter. "It was a struggle getting my curveball and change over early and I guess you could say I got stronger with those pitches as the game went on."

After surrendering a two-out base hit to center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the ninth inning, Lohse gave way to lefty Will Smith, who struck out third baseman Pedro Alvarez on three pitches to pick up his first career save.

"It was fun," Smith said. "Just right time, right situation, lefty coming up. I was able to come on and get the guy out. Kyle did an amazing job all day; I could come in for the last out if I had to."

Morton (0-1) matched Lohse for most of the game, holding the Brewers two earned runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

"Charlie pitched a really good game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "A couple of balls that he got up got hammered. They covered every fastball, I think, that we pitched up and made us pay."

With both starters dealing -- and working quickly - through the first few innings, the offenses had to find creative ways to score.

Milwaukee struck first when catcher Martin Maldonado led off the second inning with a double. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lohse and scored on center fielder Carlos Gomez's sacrifice fly.

"Hits, walks and a hit batter," Morton said. "The typical way you put guys on. That's how it happened. I think they did a pretty good job of putting really good swings on sinkers, their righties did a good job with that. Usually I'm pretty effective against righties, but today they were no different than lefties."

Pittsburgh tied the game in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by McCutchen but Braun doubled to open the bottom of the inning and scored on a hit by Ramirez. Ramirez is batting .750 (9-for-12) this season with runners in scoring position.

"Aramis continues to drive in those runs," Roenicke said. "All the guys are chipping in so we just need to keep it up."

With a sweep of the Pirates, the Brewers improved to 10-2 on the season and have a three-game lead atop the Central Division over the Cardinals, who open a three-game series at Miller Park Monday night.

NOTES: Milwaukee recalled RHP Rob Wooten from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday to replace RHP Brandon Kintzler, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a mild rotator cuff strain. ... The Pirates fell to 2-4 on the road this season and continue a nine-game road trip Monday in Cincinnati, where they will play three against the Reds. ... Ramirez has at least one RBI in nine games and hits in 11 of his 12 games this season.
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