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Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 10:00 p.m.

Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano is not all the way back. Not yet.

But he looks to be getting there.

On Wednesday, despite a shaky start, Liriano was dominant at times in a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Pirates (54-47) moved to a season-best seven-games over .500. By beating Los Angeles in five of seven games this year, the Pirates notched their first winning season against the Dodgers since going 5-4 in 2000.

In seven innings, Liriano (2-7) allowed one run on four hits, walked two and struck out four. In one stretch, Liriano retired nine in a row. It was his longest outing since April 21, when he worked seven-plus innings but was the victim of a blown save.

“I'm not at the point where I want to be yet, but everything's getting better,” Liriano said. “Everything is moving forward and coming together.”

It was his first win at PNC Park since Aug. 30, 2013.

The low point of the season for Liriano was May 25, when he fell to 0-5 with a 5.06 ERA after a loss to the Washington Nationals. He made three more starts, including a victory at the Dodgers on May 30, before going on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.

Since coming off the DL, Liriano has made three starts — taking a win, a loss and a no-decision — and has shaved his ERA to 4.18.

“I see confidence building,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The overall command is tightening up. The first time back (off the DL), it was 94 pitches in four innings. Now it's 96 in seven. He's getting some ground balls. The rhythm and the pace are better. The slider and changeup are shaping up better. I think he's heading in the right direction.”

The 27-minute first inning tested the patience of both teams' pitching coaches.

Liriano issued back-to-back walks to Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, then fell behind 2-1 against Scott Van Slyke. Liriano regrouped to strike out Van Slyke and got Juan Uribe to fly out.

Total pitches: 22, including 11 balls.

Dodgers right-hander Haren had a rough first inning. The Pirates sent nine to the plate and scored four runs on three hits and three walks.

With the bases loaded and one out, Russell Martin drew a full-count walk to bring in Gregory Polanco. Ike Davis' sacrifice fly scored Travis Snider. Josh Harrison ripped a two-run double.

Total pitches: 24, including 13 balls.

“They came out really aggressive, swung at three of the first four pitches and put me in a hole,” Haren said. “It was a mess the first inning, regardless of how the rest of the game went. Do that in the first, most times it's not going to work.”

Liriano needed only 13 pitches to get through the third inning and breezed through the fourth with seven pitches. He did not allow a hit until Miguel Rojas doubled with one out in the fifth.

“For a hitter, (Liriano) is a tough guy to face,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He's all over the place, basically. You know he doesn't really throw strikes, then he throws enough. His off-speed pitch is really what he throws for strikes. You have to be patient.”

Haren (8-8) gave up another run in the second inning. Travis Snider, who started in left field in place of Starling Marte (concussion), jumped on a first-pitch cutter and mashed a titanic solo home run to right field.

Snider finished 2 for 3 with three runs scored.

“Snider has worked extremely hard, preparing himself for the next opportunity to come his way,” Hurdle said. “This very well could be it for a time.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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