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Gallardo hopes to continue hot start in opener with Bucs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Milwaukee Brewers try to remain unbeaten this season against the Pittsburgh Pirates as the NL Central rivals begin a four-game series on Thursday night.

The Brewers lost 12 of 19 versus the Pirates a season ago, but swept the visiting club last weekend in three games. Milwaukee has won four in a row in this series overall, but went just 3-7 in Pittsburgh last season.

Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers and the Pirates' Edinson Volquez squared off in last Saturday's contest and will rematch again after neither factored into the outcome of Milwaukee's 3-2 win.

Gallardo went into the start having won his first two outings of the season while hurling a combined 12 2/3 scoreless innings. He was charged with two runs on six hits over six innings last weekend, striking out six to one walk.

Both runs the right-hander allowed came in the third inning as Starling Marte hit a run-scoring ground out and Travis Snider followed with a single to right that plated a run.

Gallardo, 28, remained a solid 11-4 lifetime versus the Pirates with a 2.61 earned run average.

Volquez's outing last Saturday kept him without a decision in three starts this year despite a 1.29 ERA. The righty allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks over 6 1/3 frames.

Volquez gave up a homer to Carlos Gomez to begin the game, then yielded an unearned run in the second when Khris Davis scored on Volquez's second wild pitch of the inning. Davis had reached base earlier in the frame with one out on Pedro Alvarez's fielding error.

The 30-year-old Volquez is 5-3 with a 4.75 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

After getting swept by the Brewers, the Pirates lost two of three to the Cincinnati Reds, shut out 4-0 in Wednesday's finale. Johnny Cueto kept Pittsburgh off the board with his three-hit performance on the mound.

Francisco Liriano was the hard-luck loser and remained winless in four starts this season. He yielded three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

"It was too dry," Liriano said. "The ball was slipping in my hands. I couldn't get a feel."

Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata left the contest in the bottom of the fifth inning after crashing into the left field wall while making a running catch of a line-drive.

The Brewers carried a nine-game winning streak into their recent set with the St. Louis Cardinals and lost the first two games of the series before picking up a 5-1 win on Wednesday.

Wily Peralta gave up one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory.

"Big game for Wily. We needed certainly a big start from somebody," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "He came out right away with the fastball that was down in the zone and good sliders. He commanded the ball well."

Jonathan Lucroy knocked in two runs, Aramis Ramirez had three hits and drove in a run, while Gomez and Lyle Overbay each had an RBI for the Brewers.

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