Cardinals defeat Liriano, Pirates, 6-1
The St. Louis Cardinals finally found a way to beat Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano.
When Liriano struggled with his control in the first inning Saturday, the Cardinals scored three quick runs. The Pirates could not do much against right-hander Joe Kelly and went down quietly, 6-1.
“Finally,” said Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who hit a single and a solo homer. “Liriano was missing on the middle a lot, and we were ready to hit those mistakes. He's been tough for us since last year.”
Liriano (0-1) went into the game with a 4-0 record and a 1.16 ERA in four regular-season starts against the Cardinals. He beat them three times last season and once in 2009 when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins.
In those three starts last year, Liriano allowed two earned runs in 24 innings. On Saturday, he yielded three runs before getting the second out of the game.
“There were some technical difficulties in the first,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There was really just one little mechanical glitch that he was battling.”
Hurdle didn't elaborate on what was out of sorts with Liriano in the first inning. And the left-hander shook his head when asked if he has a mechanical problem.
“No, I don't think so,” Liriano said. “They've got some good hitters, and I made a couple of mistakes, too. That's part of the game. I feel like I didn't have my stuff tonight. I was missing my spots with a couple pitches. And you have to give some credit to their hitters. I made some good pitches down and away, and they found a way to hit it.”
Liriano was ahead 0-2 against leadoff batter Matt Carpenter but lost him on a looping single to center field. Jhonny Peralta walked. Matt Holliday lined an RBI single up the middle.
Although he batted .454 last year with runners in scoring position, Allen Craig made the first out of the inning. His fly ball to right scored Peralta. Molina took a half-hearted swing, but it was enough to slap a single to right. Matt Adams' soft single made it 3-0.
Liriano needed 33 pitches, including only 18 strikes, to get out of the inning.
“One of those nights,” Liriano said with a shrug. “It was a battle for me.”
The second was a sharp contrast. After Kelly's leadoff double, the Cardinals made three quick outs. Liriano threw 14 pitches, 13 of them strikes, in the inning.
“He got on a nice roll,” Hurdle said. “He settled in and gave us a chance to win.”
The key was Liriano getting his slider back on track. He used it to whiff Carpenter and to induce ground outs by Peralta and Holliday.
The Pirates got a run in the third. With two outs, Travis Snider and Andrew McCutchen hit back-to-back singles.
Pedro Alvarez, who drew a five-pitch walk in the first inning, walked again on four pitches. Kelly seemed to be extra cautious against Alvarez, who mashed a pair of home runs Friday. Russell Martin walked to score Snider.
After Kelly's double, Liriano retired 13 straight. The stretch included four strikeouts and six ground ball outs. Yet, in the fifth, Peralta and Holliday drove the ball for fly outs — a signal that Liriano was starting to get the ball up again.
That worry was confirmed in the sixth, when Molina deposited an 0-2 slider into the left field bleachers. Molina's second homer of the season gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Peralta hit a two-run shot in the ninth off Jeanmar Gomez.
Kelly (1-0) allowed six hits and four walks in 51⁄3 innings.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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.
- Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
- EPA extends comment period on power plant proposal
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger hurting after big hit
- Former Pirates pitcher Tekulve doing well after heart transplant
- Police seek person who fired gun into Indiana Borough home
- Pa. considers $300,000 plan to clean polluted site in Kennedy
- Pitt football coach Chryst refutes analyst Wannstedt’s opinion
- New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season
- Pennsylvania fiscal officers say budget in dire situation
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Mylan cuts ties with NFL star charged with child abuse