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Pittsburgh at Milwaukee

Venue: Miller Park

Last season, the Milwaukee Brewers learned a lengthy April winning streak could play a very small role in a forgettable season.

They're out to match that nine-game stretch Sunday at home as they go for a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with hopes of making this year's April victories stand for something more later in the season.

The Brewers (9-2) won nine straight from April 14-23 last year and went on to finish 74-88. After a 1-2 start against Atlanta with four runs scored in the series, Milwaukee is averaging 6.1 runs and batting .298 on its current streak.

Against the Pirates (6-5), the Brewers' pitching has done the job, yielding three earned runs on 12 hits in two games. Saturday's 3-2 victory featured a third quality start from Yovani Gallardo and a shut-down performance from the bullpen in three innings of work. Milwaukee's relievers have pieced together 14 straight scoreless innings in the last five games, dropping their combined ERA to 0.83.

"If we have the lead going into the late part of the game, it's going to be very tough for the other team to score a run off those guys," Gallardo told the team's official website.

Francisco Rodriguez has been a big part of that and is once again thriving in a closing role. The veteran picked up his fourth save in as many chances Saturday and has 11 strikeouts in six scoreless innings.

"Right now, I have pretty good command of all of it," Rodriguez said. "If you can throw strikes with any pitch and throw it the way you want to, things are going to be easy for you."

Kyle Lohse is the next arm up for Milwaukee as it seeks a third straight sweep after going 6-0 on a road trip through Boston and Philadelphia.

Lohse (1-1, 4.50 ERA) earned his first win in Tuesday's 10-4 victory in Philadelphia, but he lasted just five innings while allowing three runs on seven hits with five walks.

Lohse is 9-2 with a 3.59 ERA in his career against the Pirates, though he's struggled against a few guys he could face. Second baseman Neil Walker is 10 for 24 with seven walks and eight RBIs, while outfielder Jose Tabata is 13 for 26 lifetime against Lohse.

The Pirates will look to Charlie Morton to stem the bleeding. Morton has a 3.75 ERA in two starts against the Chicago Cubs but has failed to get a decision. In Tuesday's 7-6 road victory, he allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings.

Morton is 2-4 with a 4.57 ERA lifetime against the Brewers, but both wins have come in his last two starts. He's compiled a 0.66 ERA in 13 2-3 innings in those two games.

Right fielder Ryan Braun is 6 for 11 with a home run and five RBIs against Morton. The Milwaukee slugger enters the game batting .458 with 10 RBIs on a six-game hitting streak.

So far in the series, Pittsburgh pitching has done its best to hold the Brewers' bats down. Saturday's starter Edinson Volquez limited them to one earned run on four hits in 6 1-3 innings a day after Francisco Liriano also held them to four hits but yielded four runs in six frames.

"It was another outstanding body of work," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay is expected to start at first base after Mark Reynolds had been hogging playing time in what was thought to be a platoon entering the year.

Overbay is 1 for 14 to start the season.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central5247.5252 ½ 5-5 L 1
Milwaukee1st NL Central5545.550-3-7 W 1

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Series Game Log
May 1CINCIN 8-3Bailey Henderson 
May 2CINMIL 2-0Peralta Leake 
May 3CINCIN 6-2Cueto Gallardo 
May 4CINCIN 4-3LeCure Thornburg 
Jun 13MILCIN 6-5Broxton Rodriguez 
Jun 14MILMIL 4-2Smith Hoover 
Jun 15MILCIN 13-4Leake Estrada 
Jul 4CINCIN 4-2Simon Lohse 
Jul 5CINMIL 1-0Garza Bailey 
Jul 6CINCIN 4-2Latos Smith 
Jul 21MILMIL 5-2Peralta Latos 
Jul 22MIL 8:10 PM EDT  
Jul 23MIL 2:10 PM EDT  
Sep 12MIL 8:10 PM EDT  
Sep 13MIL 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 14MIL 2:10 PM EDT  
Sep 23CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 24CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 25CIN12:35 PM EDT