MILWAUKEE — When Brandon Woodruff starts, the Milwaukee Brewers win.
Woodruff struck out 10 in six innings and Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer, helping the Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-4 on Friday night.
"I tried to go out there and make good pitches and tonight I guess the arm was just feeling good," Woodruff said.
The Brewers improved to 11-2 this season when Woodruff (8-1) takes the mound, including wins in his last eight starts. The 10 strikeouts matched a career high for the right-hander, who was charged with three runs and four hits.
"He's been in a good groove here," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We're talking seven or eight starts where I think he's thrown the ball well. He's confident in what he's doing. It's mainly because of the fastball. The fastball should give him a ton of confidence. He's got hitters looking for it and he's thrown it by them."
Eric Thames also went deep for Milwaukee, and NL MVP Christian Yelich had three hits. Travis Shaw walked twice and scored two runs.
Thames has three homers in his past four games against Pittsburgh but lamented one he thought he should have hit with two on in the eighth inning.
“I’m gonna go back inside and do some bicep curls,” he joked of the high, harmless fly out to right.
Bryan Reynolds doubled twice and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh, which has dropped four of its last five against Milwaukee. Rookie Davis lasted just three innings in his first start of the season for the Pirates.
Thames put Milwaukee ahead to stay with a two-run drive to right in the second. It was Thames' eighth of the season.
Yelich made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly. He is batting .355 with 48 homers and 127 RBIs since last July 8.
Davis (0-1), who became the 11th different pitcher to start a game for the Pirates this year, allowed three runs and walked five.
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Braun put the game out of reach with his 10th homer in the sixth. The drive to straightaway center drew a huge roar from the Miller Park crowd of 30,296 and an even bigger bat flip from the 2011 NL MVP.
"I didn't see the bat flip," Counsell said. "(Braun) had some pitches to hit yesterday and today was a little bit frustrated with himself. But, he's taking good swings. They made a couple of good pitches on him earlier in the game. He finally got one out over the plate."
Braun now has 12 seasons with double-digit homers for Milwaukee, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Robin Yount for most in Brewers history.
Kevin Newman went deep for Pittsburgh, which had won two in a row. Adam Frazier had a run-scoring triple.
Salute to the Negro Leagues
The Pirates and Brewers wore vintage 1930s Pittsburgh Crawfords and 1923 Milwaukee Bears uniforms in honor of the Negro Leagues. The Brewers paid tribute to John "Blue Moon" Odom and James "Rocky" Portier during a pregame ceremony. Odom and Portier played in the Negro Leagues' barnstorming years of the 1950s.
From the infirmary
Counsell said left-hander Brent Suter (left elbow) will be throwing off the mound a lot in June. He says the plan is for Suter to begin facing hitters in simulated game situations around the All-Star break. Suter was placed on the 60-day injured list on Feb. 19.
Pirates outfielder Corey Dickerson (right shoulder strain) has rejoined the team after a rehab assignment at Class AAA Indianapolis. Dickerson has been on the injured list since April 4. Infielder Jung Ho Kang (left side strain) also has rejoined the team after a rehab stint. Manager Clint Hurdle said the team plans to activate both players today.
Brewers right-hander Zach Davies (6-0, 2.20 ERA) will face right-hander Jordan Lyles (5-3, 3.38 ERA) in Game 2 of the weekend series on Saturday afternoon. Davies last started Sunday against the Pirates, earning a 4-2 victory. Lyles has lost his past two starts after winning four straight decisions.