Liriano dominates as Pirates open pivotal series with 9-2 win over Cardinals

  • Article by: WILL GRAVES , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 30, 2013 - 9:03 AM
hide

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh Monday, July 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — Clint Hurdle grabbed the brim of his cap and ducked his head. When pressed about what pleased him the most about Pittsburgh's 9-2 win over St. Louis on Monday, a romp that propelled the resilient Pirates within a half-game of the NL Central lead, the manager thought for a moment and sighed.

"Getting a little picky aren't we?" he asked with a smile.

Hurdle isn't. Neither is his team as it tries to shrug off two decades of misery and mediocrity.

Francisco Liriano allowed one run over seven dominant innings, Pedro Alvarez hit his NL-leading 27th home run and the Pirates kicked off a pivotal series by sending the Cardinals to their season-high fourth straight loss.

Liriano (11-4) continued his midcareer renaissance by striking out eight and walking just two to win his fifth consecutive start.

"It's been a good run for him being able to watch, and that's pretty much what I've been doing," Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "I don't get a lot of action when he's on the mound. It makes it a lot easier for the defense."

Having some help from an underachieving offense helps. The Pirates came in hitting just .221 with runners in scoring position, the worst mark in baseball. Clint Barmes smacked two doubles and drove in two runs and McCutchen added two hits as Pittsburgh went 5 for 13 with runners on second or third to continue its mastery over St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook.

The veteran right-hander fell to 1-8 against Pittsburgh in his otherwise solid resume. The Pirates touched Westbrook (7-5) for four runs in the first inning, capped by Alvarez's three-run homer into the first row of seats in right field.

"It was a battle from pitch 1 -- and it showed early on," Westbrook said. "It's not really how you draw it up with a walk and a hit batsmen and a single and a homer. Put us in a bad spot against a good team and against a guy who's throwing the ball really well."

Hurdle stressed the need to not place too much focus on a late-July series, pointing out two more months remain after the five-game set wraps up on Thursday.

Maybe, but with the Pirates chasing their first playoff berth in 21 years and a chance to make inroads on the team with the best record in baseball, the game had an electricity typically reserved for early fall in cities far away from the one that hasn't fielded a winner since 1992.

Lower-lever tickets were fetching $100 or more hours before the first pitch, and Liriano did not disappoint the largest Monday-night crowd (32,084) since the park opened.

The left-hander, whose path to stardom veered off track after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007, had little trouble with the most explosive offense in the majors. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and kept the best-hitting team in the National League on its heels while dropping his ERA to 2.16.

"Frankie can answer," Hurdle said. "He's been in big matchups before."

So has Westbrook, who still hasn't figured out a way to handle the Pirates. He was touched for four runs in the first inning of his previous start at PNC Park in April. The game was eventually washed out.

The weather couldn't save him this time. Neither could Westbrook's usually solid control. He issued three walks and hit three batters and never appeared comfortable.

"He's going to go out there and give us whatever he's got every time and for whatever reason this team's just given him a tough time and he's had a hard time in this stadium," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.

Westbrook survived a bases-loaded jam in the second to stay close, but by then Liriano had all the support he would need. His only real mistake came in the sixth, when pinch-hitter Tony Cruz led off with a triple and scored on Carpenter's single up the middle. A strikeout and a double play followed, and the Pirates broke it open in the seventh against relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Fernando Salas.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 11:00 AM
St Johns
Central Conn St 12:00 PM
Connecticut
Iona 12:00 PM
Drexel
Concordia (MI) 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Harvard 1:00 PM
Arizona State
Longwood 1:00 PM
Ball State
Sacred Heart 1:00 PM
Brown
Colgate 1:00 PM
Columbia
MD-Eastern Shore 1:00 PM
Duquesne
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
East Carolina
Marist 1:00 PM
Elon
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Cincinnati Christian 1:00 PM
Liberty
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Marquette
Campbell 1:00 PM
Samford
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Siena
Long Beach State 1:00 PM
Syracuse
Coppin State 1:05 PM
Evansville
UMKC 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 1:30 PM
Long Island
Coast Guard 2:00 PM
Army
Thomas (GA) 2:00 PM
High Point
Texas Southern 2:00 PM
Kansas State
Rutgers 2:00 PM
Monmouth
NC Wesleyan 2:00 PM
NC A&T
South Dakota St 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Central Penn College 2:00 PM
Radford
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
South Florida
Harris-Stowe 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Robert Morris-IL 2:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Northland College 2:00 PM
North Dakota St
Milwaukee 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Saint Peters 3:00 PM
Cornell
St Katherine 3:00 PM
Fresno State
Haskell 3:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Wake Forest 3:00 PM
Richmond
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
Xavier
SD Christian 3:05 PM
Northern Ariz
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Drexel 11:00 AM
Miami-Ohio
Holy Cross 11:00 AM
Norfolk State
East Carolina 11:00 AM
South Florida
(10) Oregon State 12:00 PM
(8) Tennessee
Providence 12:00 PM
Boston College
Florida A&M 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Oakland 12:00 PM
Central Michigan
Chattanooga 12:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Fairfield 12:00 PM
La Salle
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Longwood
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Northeastern 1:00 PM
Albany
George Mason 1:00 PM
Towson
Richmond 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Tulane 1:00 PM
Cincinnati
North Florida 1:00 PM
Florida
(14) Georgia 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Tennessee St 1:00 PM
(12) Kentucky
American Univ 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Boston U
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Lafayette 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Northwestern 1:00 PM
(20) Michigan State
Duquesne 1:00 PM
Lehigh
George Washington 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Indiana
(24) Green Bay 1:00 PM
Dayton
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Stony Brook
Davidson 1:30 PM
Virginia
UNC Greensboro 2:00 PM
LSU
Denver 2:00 PM
North Texas
VA Commonwealth 2:00 PM
Coppin State
Huston-Tillotson 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Lamar 2:00 PM
Rice
Miss Valley St 2:00 PM
Alabama
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Penn State 2:00 PM
(23) Iowa
Purdue 2:00 PM
Illinois
DePaul 2:05 PM
Illinois State
Sam Houston St 2:05 PM
Wichita State
South Dakota 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(4) Notre Dame 3:00 PM
UCLA
Coll of Charleston 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Niagara
Colgate 3:00 PM
Siena
Michigan 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close