Colorado rocks Liriano, Pirates
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 12:15 a.m.
DENVER — Francisco Liriano will never forget the first time he pitched at Coors Field, but it will not be a cherished memory.
The Colorado Rockies batted around in each of the first two innings Friday and routed the Pirates, 10-1, ending their five-game winning streak.
“Not a good one to remember,” Liriano said.
Liriano (12-5) lasted 21⁄3 innings and gave up a career-worst 10 runs — two more runs than he'd allowed in all of July. His ERA shot from 2.02 to 2.83.
By the end of the second inning, Liriano already had yielded 11 hits. That matched his previous career-high for hits allowed in a game, set against Kansas City in September 2008 and again against Boston in May 2009.
After Liriano surrendered his 12th hit — a single by Troy Tulowitzki that snapped his 0-for-13 skid — manager Clint Hurdle mercifully called for reliever Vin Mazzaro.
It was the biggest meltdown by a Pirates starter since A.J. Burnett was tagged for 12 runs in 22⁄3 innings May 2, 2012, against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I was missing my spots a lot,” Liriano said. “My slider wasn't real sharp. I got behind in the count a lot. One of those days.”
In the eighth inning, infielder Josh Harrison became the Pirates' first position player to pitch since Abraham Nunez tossed one scoreless inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 30, 2004. Harrison got pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson to fly out to left field, stranding two runners.
“I didn't exactly volunteer, but it was mentioned to me (in the dugout), and I said I could do it,” Harrison said. “When Clint met me on the mound, he said, ‘I never thought I'd have to have this talk with you on the mound.' I just wanted to get out of there as quick as possible. I wasn't worried about giving up a home run.”
About the only bright spot was that the Pirates scored more runs in Denver than the Cardinals did in Chicago. The Cardinals were 3-0 losers to the Cubs, preserving the Pirates' four-game lead in the NL Central.
Their playoff hopes gone, the Rockies are without slugger Carlos Gonzalez, who went on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained finger.
The game actually had a promising start for the Pirates, but it quickly turned sour. Starling Marte slapped the first pitch from left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (11-6) into left field for a single. It started a conga line of Pirates batters.
Jordy Mercer singled to left. Andrew McCutchen singled to left. Russell Martin singled to left. Unfortunately, Marte was picked off on a steal attempt while Mercer was batting. So all the Pirates had to show for their four straight hits were three occupied bases, one out — and zero runs.
But, hey, it still was a terrific scoring opportunity. Or not.
Pedro Alvarez got ahead in the count 3-0 then struck out swinging. Gaby Sanchez then grounded out.
Liriano got an out to start the bottom of the first, then saw the next six batters reach base. The Rockies took a 4-0 lead. Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton each bounced an RBI single up the middle, just out of the reach of shortstop Mercer and second baseman Neil Walker. Wilin Rosario stroked a two-run double. In the top of the second, Mercer's sacrifice fly scored Walker to make the score 4-1.
The Rockies sent nine batters to the plate again in the second and scored five runs. Rosario blasted a two-run homer. Cuddyer and Charlie Culberson each had an RBI single. Nolan Arenado ripped a run-scoring double.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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