Pirates' Liriano tough, but Padres piece together 2-1 victory
Francisco Liriano was nearly perfect for seven consecutive innings Saturday, but it was not enough for the Pirates in a 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres.
The Pirates could not overcome first-inning damage off Liriano (3-8), and they squandered a key scoring opportunity in the eighth before 38,614 fans, the 14th sellout of the season at PNC Park.
The Pirates need a victory Sunday to win a series against the Padres for the first time in PNC Park history. The Padres have won all 13 series they have played in the ballpark.
The Pirates remain a half-game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for second place in the NL Central.
“We knew they could pitch coming in,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Liriano allowed back-to-back singles to Everth Cabrera and Yangervis Solarte to begin the game and hit Tommy Medica to load the bases. Jedd Gyorko's RBI single gave the Padres a 1-0 lead. After Chris Nelson grounded into a fielder's choice, Yasmani Grandal flied out to deep right, scoring Medica. Nelson was caught trying to advance to end the inning.
After allowing the first four Padres to reach, Liriano recorded 20 consecutive outs until he walked Grandal with two outs in the seventh inning. Liriano allowed three hits and one walk in seven innings, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 3.82.
The Pirates lost, but perhaps the bigger picture is this: The Pirates fixed Liriano once. Maybe they have fixed him again.
Liriano signed a deal that guaranteed him just $1 million in 2013. He went 16-8 and finished ninth in NL Cy Young voting. After struggling with injuries in the first half of this season, Liriano continues to look more like his 2013 self after the All-Star break.
In five starts since the break, Liriano has allowed six earned runs in 32 innings (1.69 ERA), with a 32-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“His fastball command is getting back to what we saw last year,” Hurdle said. “I think it's health more than anything. As I said a while ago, after he came off the DL, it was maybe the first time all year … he's been able to take (complete health) out on the mound.”
Liriano left the ballpark before speaking with reporters, but reliever Jared Hughes was impressed with what he saw.
“Watching him pitch from the bullpen, from that angle, is just incredible because you can see the rhythm he gets into and the angle on the ball,” Hughes said.
Liriano's run of perfection wasn't enough.
The Pirates scored only once. Josh Harrison extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a leadoff single in the first and later scored on Russell Martin's single. For the second straight game there was no scoring after the first inning.
The Pirates were shut down by left-hander Eric Stults (5-13) — he scattered seven hits and walked none in 6 1⁄3 innings — and the Padres bullpen.
The Pirates threatened in the eighth. Kevin Quackenbush allowed a leadoff single to Jordy Mercer, who advanced to third when Martin banged a double off the Clemente Wall. But Quackenbush got Ike Davis to weakly line out. Starling Marte struck out, and Gregory Polanco flied out to right.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates grind out extra-inning win against testy Tigers
- Pirates notebook: Cervelli gets 1st career DH start
- Bush Center displays rare Honus Wagner baseball card
- Gameday: Pirates at Detroit, July 1, 2015
- Pirates hope 1st baseman Alvarez starts to regain power stroke
- Starkey: Cervelli’s inspiration
- Gameday: Pirates at Tigers, June 30, 2015
- Late rally falls short, as Pirates can’t complete sweep of Braves
- Pirates notebook: Power shortage continues, Tabata designated for assignment
- Finally healthy, former 1st-rounder Joe finding his way
- Starter Cole chased early, as Pirates can’t keep up with Reds