Brewers bats, Vargas overpower Pirates for win


• Summary: Claudio Vargas teamed with the Brewers bullpen for a six-hit shutout and 10-0 win over the Pirates.


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• Unsung hero: Milwaukee's offense takes the honor, as homers from J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder and Johnny Estrada helped Vargas' cause.

• Fantasy stat: Hardy extended his hit streak to 15 games with a 4-for-5 performance.

• Did you see that?: A fan in Section 218 caught two foul balls, both barehanded.

• Quotable: "They beat the hell out of us." -- Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy.

• Elias Says: The Brewers beat the Pirates, 10-0, tying the largest shutout victory in the major leagues this season.

-- news services

Brewers 10, Pirates 0

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The top of the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup did nearly all the damage against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

J.J. Hardy had four hits and three RBIs, Rickie Weeks had three hits and scored three runs, and Prince Fielder homered and drove in four runs to lead the Brewers to a 10-0 victory over the Pirates.

"It's real nice for the top of the lineup," Hardy said. "How many games can the top of the lineup do that? But it is nice to do that once in awhile."

Hardy, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, and Johnny Estrada also homered and Claudio Vargas gave up four singles in six innings for the Brewers.

"They beat the hell out of us," Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said of the young NL Central-leading Brewers.

Fielder and Weeks were first-round draft choices in 2002 and 2003, respectively, and Hardy was selected in the second round in 2001. Hardy and Weeks are 24, hitting ahead of Fielder, who turns 23 next week.

"You want to hit with guys on base," Fielder said of Weeks and Hardy. "J.J.'s been clearing the bases. It's been a lot of fun seeing those two guys hit good in front of me, and it makes it easy for me to hit when they're on base."

Vargas (3-0) walked three and struck out four to win for the third time in four starts.

Paul Maholm (1-4) gave up three runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings, with three walks and five strikeouts. He was in trouble each inning, but limited damage by holding Milwaukee to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"I thought I had good stuff, but it wasn't," Maholm said.

Hardy hit a solo home run, his seventh, to lead off the third, and scored two runs. He is batting .328 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs a year after being limited to 35 games due to an ankle injury that required surgery.

"J.J.'s really carrying the load offensively for us," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

Fielder drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth and hit a three-run home run in the sixth, and Estrada had an RBI single in the first and a solo homer to lead off the fifth.

The outing by Vargas, the Brewers' fifth starter, was another indicator of Milwaukee's strong starting pitching. The right-hander, acquired in a trade with Arizona during the offseason, lowered his ERA to 2.89, and was removed after throwing 98 pitches.

"I put a zero up on the board, and that's the important thing," Vargas said.

Brewers' starters are 11-2 with a 3.06 ERA in the team's last 18 games.

Milwaukee scored single runs in four of the first five innings, and three in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Fielder's bases-loaded walk made it 3-0 in the fourth, chasing Maholm. The Brewers broke the game open in the sixth when Weeks and Hardy reached on one-out singles and Fielder's homer made it 7-0.

Marty McLeary, making his season debut after being recalled Thursday from Triple-A Indianapolis, gave up four runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings for the Pirates.

"Not a whole lot to say," Tracy said of his team's performance.

Game notes
Maholm's only victory was a three-hit shutout of Houston on April 24. In his other five starts, he is 0-4 with a 7.61 ERA. ... Vargas doubled in the second inning, giving the Brewers at least one double in each of their 29 games. ... The Brewers traded C JD Closser to Oakland for outfielder Charles Thomas. Closser was playing at Triple-A Nashville while Thomas was at Triple-A Sacramento. Thomas was assigned to Nashville.