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STL@PIT: Liriano surrenders four runs in six innings

Baseball being a game of adjustments, the Pirates last season adjusted to their historic mistreatment by the Brewers.

Entering with a 24-69 record against the Brewers since 2007, the Bucs turned the tables for 12 wins in 19 meetings. The Pirates even had a record of 5-4 in Milwaukee's Miller Park, where they had lost 38 of 42 games in a five-year stretch through 2011.

But the Brewers were dealing with a lot of injuries and other issues last year. Now they are fully loaded, healthy and looking to make their own adjustment against Pittsburgh. The Brewers will enter Friday's series opener on the heels of a 6-0 trip to Boston and Philadelphia.

"The Pirates are coming to town, so we have to treat them just like we did Boston and Philly," said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. "We have to take them seriously and be ready to roll."

Right-hander Wily Peralta gets a shot to continue the Brewers' winning streak Friday night, when he opposed Buccos lefty Francisco Liriano in the opening game of the weekend series.

"It's going to be tough," said Peralta, who expects the National League Central to be a battle all season. "Pittsburgh has a good team; they showed that last year. St. Louis pretty much has the same team. We definitely have a better team, I know that."

To exact any revenge from last season, the Brewers might have to go through Pedro Alvarez.

Building on his compelling performance in last fall's National League Division Series -- as the Pirates had hoped he would -- Alvarez got off to a record start this season.

With two-homer games on Friday and Wednesday, Alvarez became the first Pirates player to have a pair of multihomer games within the first eight contests of a season.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle isn't sure what most impresses him: Alvarez's five home runs or his six walks.

"He's become much more aware of where he gets pitched, and has learned that he is much better served when he hits the ball hard where it's pitched," Hurdle said of his cleanup hitter. "There isn't a ballpark that can hold him, and he can leave any park from line to line."

Miller Park can't hold hitters with Alvarez's pedigree, so it should not be surprising that he has six homers there in 30 games.

"We have some momentum," Lucroy said. "We have to keep it going. You can't take your foot off the gas."

Pirates: Playing in close quarters
Of the Bucs' first nine games, six have been decided by one run, with Pittsburgh winning five.

Playing and surviving close games has become the team's personality.

"They're fun. That's who we are," said Hurdle, whose get-one-more-run-than-them mantra is holding up. "The guys are just getting dirty with it."

Brewers: A team on fire
Road trips don't get much better than the Brewers' just-completed trek to Boston and Philadelphia.

The 6-0 trip was the Brewers' best since they won seven in a row at San Francisco and St. Louis coming out of the 2008 All-Star break. Brewers relievers allowed only one earned run in 21 2/3 innings against the Red Sox and Phillies, lowering Milwaukee's relief ERA to a Major League-best 0.98. And after batting .184 and managing only four runs while losing two of three games to the Braves in the season-opening series at Miller Park, Brewers hitters tallied 78 hits and scored 42 runs on the trip.

"It's the way you want to do it; we're pitching and we're hitting," said Marco Estrada, Thursday's winning pitcher. "It's a little tough on the road to do it, but we did it. That just shows what kind of team we have. We're a pretty good team."

Worth noting
• Gerrit Cole won his sixth straight regular-season start Thursday, even though he came out of the game trailing, 4-0. The Pirates rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh at Wrigley Field while he was still the pitcher of record.

• The Brewers' 7-2 start is their best since the 1998 club also began the season with that record.

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