Preview: Brewers go for ninth straight win
The Milwaukee Brewers will try to run their winning streak to nine games when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. The 9-2 start by the Brewers represents their best mark since opening 13-0 in 1987 and their plus-25 run differential leads the majors by seven.Carlos Gomez has already hit two leadoff home runs for Milwaukee and Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Lucroy are all hitting better than .300 in the 3-4-5 spots.
One of the most impressive aspects for Milwaukee this season has been its bullpen, which has surrendered just three earned runs in 32 2/3 innings. Francisco Rodriguez has allowed two base runners while converting his first four save opportunities and Will Smith hasn’t been scored upon in six appearances. The Pirates have lost two in a row for the first time this season and they’re looking for someone to step up offensively as no regular is hitting better than .290 and they're batting .225 as a team.
TV: 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports Wisconsin
PITCHING MATCHUPS: Pirates RH Charlie Morton (0-0, 3.75 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Kyle Lohse (1-1, 4.50)
Morton is 2-4 in nine career starts against Milwaukee, though he went 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA in back-to-back starts against the Brewers late last season. He went 6 2/3 innings in the first outing and didn’t allow an earned run in the 7-1 victory Aug. 28 in Pittsburgh, then came back six days later and gave up one earned run in seven innings of a 5-2 win by the Pirates. Morton hasn’t won a game since then, however, getting four no-decisions to end the regular season, losing his lone start in the NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and getting two more no-decisions to start this season.
Lohse has enjoyed good success in his career against the Pirates, owning a 9-2 record with a modest 3.59 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts). He was the recipient of three no-decisions against Pittsburgh last season, however, getting lit up for 13 hits and five runs in his most recent appearance against Pittsburgh last August before Milwaukee eventually won 7-6. He bounced back from a season-opening loss against the Atlanta Braves this season to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, though his numbers (eight strikeouts in seven innings) against the Braves were much better.
1. The Brewers haven’t been seven games above .500 since 2011, when they reached that mark after 57 games.
2. Milwaukee OF Ryan Braun, the NL home run champion in 2012, has homered in one game this season, hitting three against Phillies on Tuesday.
3. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen, who committed one error en route to winning a Gold Glove in 2012, then committed six last season while losing out on the award, dropped a fly ball off the bat of Khris Davis in the seventh inning Saturday for his first error of the season.
PREDICTION: Pirates 4, Brewers 3