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

Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 1:09 a.m.

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 or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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