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Liriano, Pirates beat Giants, inch closer to lead in NL Central

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 1:09 a.m.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano works against the Giants in the first inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Travis Snider is congratulated by third-base coach Nick Leyva after hitting a two-run home run against the Giants in the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Travis Snider (right) is congratulated by Jordy Mercer after hitting a two-run homer during the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Josh Harrison watches his leadoff home run against the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Francisco Liriano pitches against the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
The Pirates' Travis Snider (left) is congratulated by Ike Davis after Snider hit a two-run homr in the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Josh Harrison is congratulated by Gregory Polanco after Harrison hit a leadoff home run against the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
The Pirates' Francisco Liriano works against the Giants in the first inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Giants' Michael Morse trots around the bases after homering off the Pirates' Francisco Liriano in the second Inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
The Giants' Tim Hudson works against the Pirates in the first inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Giants' Michael Morse rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano during the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Travis Snider reacts after striking out in the sixth inning against the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Ike Davis is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the Giants in the top of the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Giants' Gregor Blanco slides into second base with a double, beating the tag of the Pirates' Jordy Mercer in the first inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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Pirates left fielder Travis Snider rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homer off Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson during the second inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon (right) and catcher Russell Martin celebrate their 3-1 victory over the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon delivers against the Giants in the ninth inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
Pirates outfielders (from left) Michael Martinez, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco celebrate after beating the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen doubles against the Giants in the top of the eighth inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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Pirates outfielders (left to right) Gregory Polanco, Michael Martinez and Andrew McCutchen celebrate after defeating the Giants on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer completes a double play during the eighth inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer slides into third base for a triple during the fourth inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.
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Pirates reliever Tony Watson delivers in the eighth inning Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO — Left-hander Francisco Liriano continued his second-half turnaround Tuesday as the Pirates edged the San Francisco Giants, 3-1.

Liriano (3-7) has won back-to-back decisions for the first time since Aug. 14 and 19, 2013. He went seven innings and gave up one run on three hits.

“Everything was working tonight,” Liriano said. “I was getting better location as the game went on. Pitching's all about location.”

With a season-high 11 strikeouts, Liriano cracked double-digits for the 15th time in his career.

“I thought it was his best outing this year,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He's improved every time he's been out there. The fastball played so well. He was able to get them in swing mode. That's what made the changeup so effective. The sliders to left-handers were real sharp as well.”

At the All-Star break, Liriano was 1-7 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. In three starts since, he has gone 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP.

All of the game's scoring happened in the first two innings.

Before they'd even sent nine batters to the plate, the Pirates had hit a pair of home runs and constructed a 3-0 lead.

Josh Harrison got it started by going opposite field with a full-count slider from All-Star Tim Hudson (8-8). The blast to right field was Harrison's first career leadoff homer.

“I definitely knew it (was my first). That's something you remember,” Harrison said. “When I hit it, I knew he wasn't going to catch it. I just didn't know if it was going out.”

Harrison has homered in three straight games.

“It's always fun when you're getting hits,” Harrison said. “I really don't care about home runs. When you're getting on base and scoring, that's what I care about. Home runs are bonuses.”

In the second inning, Ike Davis beat out an infield single. Travis Snider followed with a two-run shot to right.

Since June 1, Snider has batted .333 (21 for 63) with four home runs. He's been a good pick-me-up with Starling Marte (concussion symptoms) on the disabled list and Gregory Polanco going through some rookie growing pains.

“I'm just focused on the process and helping the team win every night,” Snider said. “I'm not caught up in personal results. I understand what my role is on this team.”

Michael Morse began the bottom of the second with a home run that bounced off the top of the left-field wall. The call was upheld by a replay review.

The Pirates got only three hits the rest of the way. Jordy Mercer had a two-out triple in the fourth inning. Neil Walker was stranded after a leadoff single in the sixth. In the eighth, Andrew McCutchen snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a double.

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

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