MILWAUKEE (AP) — Aramis Ramirez crushed a 1-2 fastball into the left-field stands, the breakthrough that the Milwaukee Brewers needed against a tough left-hander.
Once again, the third baseman delivered in a big spot.
Ramirez kept up his torrid hitting with a two-run homer to help back Wily Peralta's solid start, and the Brewers extended their winning streak to seven with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
At 8-2, the Brewers are off to their best start since opening with 13 wins in 1987.
"Everything's clicking. We'll continue to grind this thing out as best as we can, but we're doing a lot of good things," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Ramirez's clutch hitting is at the top of the list. His 421-foot homer with two outs in the fourth gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead against Francisco Liriano, who had befuddled the Brewers with his slider.
Ramirez is hitting .727 (8 for 11) with runners in scoring position through the season's first 10 games.
"I would say that's part of job — I'm a cleanup hitter driving in runs, so I have to concentrate a little harder when I have guys in scoring position," Ramirez said.
Milwaukee missed his bat for stretches of the 2013 season, when he was bothered by a left knee injury. Now, the Brewers have their cleanup hitter back, along with No. 3 hitter Ryan Braun, who returned from a 65-game suspension that following baseball's investigation of a Florida anti-aging clinic.
The Brewers added two more runs in the fifth on a solo shot by Mark Reynolds and a two-out single from Carlos Gomez.
"You can't make too many mistakes in the big leagues. I was trying to go up and in and it went middle-in," Liriano said. "I made two mistakes and you can't make those kinds of mistakes at this level."
Liriano (0-2) struck out seven over six innings. 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.
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.
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