Liriano pitches Pirates to win over Dodgers
LOS ANGELES — Frankie's back.
Francisco Liriano overcame 11 rotten starts and, perhaps, a smidge of self-doubt Friday and helped steer the Pirates to a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It's a great feeling,” Liriano said. “It feels like it's been a long time.”
Liriano went into the game burdened by a winless record and a 5.06 ERA. During a closed-door meeting, manager Clint Hurdle tried to prop up his beleaguered left-hander.
“I told him: ‘You're healthy. You've thrown sequences of pitches. You haven't lost velocity. These are the things that are still in play,' ” Hurdle said. “It's not like this guy is trying to stay alive in the major leagues. He's gonna have a job next year. He's gonna have a contract, and it's going to be (sizable).”
Liriano's $7 million deal with the Pirates is up after this season, but that's a concern for another day. For now, Liriano just wants to win games.
“With his makeup, the way he works and everything, I told him to just continue to push through this,” Hurdle said later. “And I believe he will.”
Liriano (1-5) went 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out eight.
Liriano's defining moment came in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Pirates clinging to a 2-0 lead.
Chone Figgins hit five fouls in an 11-pitch at-bat before finally drawing a walk. With the bases loaded and two outs, Liriano faced Yasiel Puig.
Although about half of his pitches to Figgins were sliders, Liriano had relied heavily on his changeup to that point. Against Puig, who went into the game batting .410 in May, Liriano went back to the changeup.
“That's the ballgame right there,” catcher Russell Martin said. “But the thing is, he wasn't going to give in to Puig. He wasn't going to give him anything. We weren't going to challenge him with a fastball down the middle. We were going to challenge him with our pitch, what we thought he wasn't looking for.”
Puig swung through a changeup to even the count 2-2. Liriano came back with another, and Puig popped out to second baseman Neil Walker.
If Figgins had been at the plate, he might have dinked that changeup into the outfield for a single. Puig, however, wasn't searching for a single; he wanted to knock the ball to Pasadena.
Puig took a big, aggressive swing — and played right into Liriano's hands.
“The changeup was working down,” Liriano said. “I went one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time.”
Liriano joined the no-hitter club three years ago when he was with the Minnesota Twins. On Friday, he outdueled that exclusive group's newest member.
In his previous start, Dodgers righty Josh Beckett no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the Dodgers' MLB-leading 21st no-no and their 11th since the franchise moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.
Hurdle said Beckett's historic outing might have given the Pirates a small edge during their pregame film study.
“We're not going to plan against him any differently than we would have, other than the fact we got to see a lot of pitches in that last game,” Hurdle said. “He threw (128) pitches. He threw 40 curveballs. We got to see his entire repertoire.”
Beckett lasted five innings against the Pirates and allowed two runs, five hits, one walk and one hit batter.
Beckett threw a 1-2-3 first inning, With one out in the second, Russell Martin lined a single into center field.
Somewhere, Johnny Vander Meer was smiling. In 1938, Vander Meer, a Cincinnati Reds left-hander, tossed no-hitters in back-to-back starts. Nobody's done it since.
In a slightly bizarre third inning, the Pirates took a 1-0 lead.
Starling Marte was hit by a pitch. Clint Barmes walked. Liriano squared around to bun but took a called strike — and catcher Drew Butera picked off Marte at second base. Liriano wound up striking out.
Josh Harrison singled. Walker stroked a single to right field, scoring Barmes and extending Walker's hitting streak to 11 games.
Andrew McCutchen struck out on a foul tip. McCutchen insisted his bat did not make contact, and manager Clint Hurdle quickly stepped in between his star center fielder and umpire Paul Nauert to defuse the situation.
In the fourth, Ike Davis mashed a 2-1 sinker for his fourth homer of the season. The 453-foot blast landed well beyond the center-field wall.
If that estimated distance is verified, Davis' homer will become the longest by the Pirates this season. According to ESPN's online hit tracker, Pedro Alvarez hit a 446-foot homer April 10 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Davis' shot is the longest at Dodger Stadium this year, easily outdistancing Yasiel Puig's 438-foot homer May 12 against the Miami Marlins.
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 trade for Mariners’ Happ
- Armstrong escapee caught; murder charges pending
- Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
- Experimental Ebola vaccine could stop virus in West Africa
- Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
- Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
- Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
- Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
- Judge rules McCullough guilty of taking money from elderly woman’s estate
- Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
- Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries