MILWAUKEE (AP) -- J.J. Hardy breathed a sigh of relief after his hitting streak ended. He wasted no time starting a new one.
Hardy hit two homers, All-Star starter Ryan Braun added one and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep."I can't explain it. It feels good, I'm just relaxed and comfortable up there and it seems like I'm getting a lot of pitches to hit," Hardy said.Hardy went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to raise his average to .446 over the last 18 games. He has been on a tear since taking six days off with an aching shoulder last month. Saturday night, he gave up his 16-game hitting streak by laying down a sacrifice bunt in the ninth that eventually helped score the winning run."He's hitting for power, he's hitting doubles, he's hitting singles, he's clutch hitting. He's just hitting everything," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "I don't know how much better it gets than it is right now for any player, to be honest with you. I don't think Babe Ruth had stretches as good as this right now. I'm sure he did, but it really doesn't get much better than the way he's swinging."On Sunday, Hardy kept swinging away, hitting a two-run homer in the first and adding a two-run shot in the fourth for his second two-homer game in the last six days."He's carried us, he's been phenomenal," Braun said. "When a guy gets as hot as he is right now, it's just fun to watch."Milwaukee tied franchise records with nine doubles and 12 extra-base hits to finish its fifth series sweep, all at home. The Brewers (49-39) improved to 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and are percentage points ahead of St. Louis (50-40) in the NL Central. Both teams are chasing Chicago."We feel like we're rolling on all cylinders," said Bill Hall, who had three RBIs. "We're hitting the ball all over the place."Hardy's second shot put Milwaukee up for good 8-6 after the Brewers squandered a 4-0 lead. Milwaukee added another run off Pirates reliever Denny Bautista (1-1) on an RBI double by Corey Hart that scored Braun, named to his first All-Star game on Sunday, and reliever Sean Burnett gave up an RBI double to Hall to make it 10-6.Brewers reliever Mitch Stetter (2-1) earned the win with two scoreless innings.Neither starter made it past the third inning. With the Pirates up 6-4, Zach Duke gave up RBI doubles to Hart and Hall in the third to make it 6-all and was chased when Jason Kendall singled to put runners on the corners with one out."It just really snowballed," Pirates manager John Russell said. "They were swinging the bats real well and we just couldn't hold them."That also ended Brewers starter Jeff Suppan's day after he was pulled for a pinch hitter. Suppan is 1-2 with a 10.53 ERA in his last four starts.Pittsburgh scored six straight runs to erase a 4-0 deficit built by back-to-back homers by Hardy and Braun and an RBI single by Hall.Jason Bay led off the second with a 443-foot solo homer and the Pirates tied the game when All-Star Nate McLouth drove in three with a two-out double, the final of three straight hits."Any time your peers feel that way about you and vote you into an All-Star game it's extremely special and it makes you feel good," McLouth said.Pittsburgh, which scored eight runs in the series, took a 6-4 lead in the third off Adam LaRoche's two-run homer, but Hardy made sure it didn't last."Everything they hit fell in," Russell said. "We just couldn't stop the bleeding."
Brewers ace Ben Sheets (10-4, 2.77 ERA) was named to his fourth All-Star game, while Hart is one of five NL players who can be voted in by Thursday. ... Pittsburgh, which has lost three straight, is now in the cellar of the NL Central. In the series, the Pirates hit .220, struck out 21 times and committed five errors. ... The Brewers hit consecutive homers in a game for the eighth time this season and second time this month. ... Milwaukee last had nine doubles and 12 extra-base hits in an extra-inning game against Philadelphia on May 15, 2001.