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Peralta leads Brewers into break on high note

Gomez sparks three-run first, backing Milwaukee's steady starter

PHOENIX -- The 2013 season's first half was largely one to forget for the Brewers, with two six-game losing streaks, three five-game winless streaks at home and the latest run of four straight defeats heading into Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But the Brewers can go their separate ways for the next few days of the All-Star break having ended the first half on a positive note with a 5-1 win over the D-backs at Chase Field. It was Milwaukee's first win against Arizona in seven games between the teams this season.

Wily Peralta took care of things on the mound Sunday, striking out a career-high eight in seven innings to pick up the win and improve to 7-9.

"We needed obviously to come out with a win," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "A lot of good things happened. Wily looked good. We came out swinging the bats from the first inning, and any time we can get three runs early, we feel like we have enough pitching to keep them there. It should turn out well, and it did."

All-Star Carlos Gomez, mired in a 1-for-28 slump over the previous eight games, drove in two runs in the first inning with a single, and the Brewers did the little things right with the bat and on the bases in the second inning.

Two hits sandwiching a sacrifice bunt by Peralta put runners on first and third with one out. Then Logan Schafer dragged a well-placed bunt up the first-base line, far enough away from pitcher Ian Kennedy for him to have only one play and allow Jeff Bianchi to score from third base.

That gave Milwaukee a 4-0 lead, with all four runs against Kennedy (3-6).

The Brewers enter the break with a 38-56 record and in last place in the NL Central, 19 games behind the Cardinals, who played the late game Sunday and had a chance to stay in first with a win. Milwaukee has won only nine of 31 series, including three splits.

Peralta was not dominant and threw two wild pitches, but he got the key outs when he needed them. He got Aaron Hill to ground into a 6-4-3 double play with runners at the corners to end the first inning. Then came a strikeout with two outs and two runners on in the second and another induced double play after Hill singled to open the fourth inning.

"I feel good about it," Peralta said in Spanish about his performance. "I think early on I had a few problems locating my fastball. Then I got into a rhythm and was able to control it, and that helped me on my way to the win."

Shortstop Jean Segura made the difference on the fourth-inning double play, snaring a sharp grounder from Martin Prado that bounced wildly after hitting the pitcher's mound, touching second base and throwing on to first.

Segura went 3-for-3 and scored a run, just hours before he planned to take off for the All-Star Game in New York along with Gomez.

Schafer hit a solo home run in the fifth inning, his second of the season, to give Milwaukee a 5-0 lead. Arizona came back with its only run off Peralta, a solo home run from Miguel Montero.

"We had a really good outing from Wily again ... and we feel like we've been putting together some good at-bats," Schafer said. "It's great to close out the first half like this, and hopefully we can keep it going when we come back from the break."

Peralta, coming off a complete game in his previous start, scattered seven hits and two walks over his seven innings. He escaped another jam in the sixth after giving up hits to the first two batters, but he struck out the next two and got the third out on a ground ball. The top of the Brewers' order -- Norichika Aoki, Schafer and Segura -- combined for seven of the Brewers' nine total hits.

"I started the season slow, and the last four or five outings I've had better rhythm," Peralta said. "I'm not falling behind hitters, and I'm throwing first-pitch strikes. I think that's been the difference."

The Brewers will open the second half of the season Friday at Miller Park against the Miami Marlins. Kyle Lohse (5-7) opens up the three-game set, with Yovani Gallardo (7-8) scheduled for Saturday.

"When we have the other guys coming back healthy, hopefully Braunie [Ryan Braun] and Aramis [Ramirez] will be back; it becomes a pretty good team," Roenicke said. "Hopefully everything clicks, we don't have any more injuries and we'll see what happens."

Jose M. Romero is a contributor to
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