Francisco Liriano went the distance Wednesday night and shut down the St. Louis Cardinals as the Pittsburgh Pirates won Game 2 of the series, 5-1.
The Pirates’ left hander went nine innings and allowed just one run on four hits, walked one and struck out six. It was a bounce-back game for Liriano after his worst start of his career when he gave up ten runs in Colorado last Friday.
“I just put that one behind me and moved forward,” Liriano said. “My changeup and slider were working pretty good tonight, pitches were in good locations.”
He also placed himself among the National League’s best with 13 wins. Most impressively, Liriano needed only 94 pitches throughout the game.
“This is a very good hitting team,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “He made pitches all night, he attacked them. He stayed aggressive and worked in front of counts.”
Pittsburgh improved to 3-0 against Rookie of the Year candidate Shelby Miller this season.
Miller (11-8) was tagged with all five runs in six innings, gave up eight hits, two walks and recorded five strikeouts.
The offense got a jump start from Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones who each homered in the second inning and gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Starling Marte gave Pittsburgh a 5-0 cushion in the fourth inning with a 2-run double. Marte had the chance to redeem himself after dropping a routine fly ball Tuesday night which consequently sent the game to extra innings.
Tony Sanchez got the start behind the plate, allowing Russell Martin to rest before the team’s day game tomorrow. Hurdle was very happy with the way Sanchez has been able to step up during the absence of Michael McKenry.
“”His skills behind the plate are good,” Hurdle said. “He is evolving and has done a very good job in the short time, it’s impressive to see.”
Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen added two hits each for the Pirates’ offense.
Pittsburgh remains three games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Central and look to win the rubber match tomorrow to stay on pace.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s been a blast everyday,” Jones said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time, still a month and a half in the season but it’s been fun and we want to keep that going.”
Game 3 of the series will be Thursday afternoon at 1 o’clock. AJ Burnett (5-8) will face Lance Lynn (13-6).