Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Liriano pitches Pirates to fourth straight win

Liriano pitches Pirates to fourth straight win

Francisco Liriano didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, Pedro Alvarez homered again and Starling Marte, Neil Walker & Mike McKenry snapped out of slumps with big ninth inning hits as the Pirates won their fourth straight, dropping the Nationals 4-2 in DC on Wednesday night.

WASHINGTON — Pedro Alvarez lifted Stephen Strasburg’s pitch into the outfield, conveniently placing it no more than a couple feet over the right-centerfield wall of Nationals Park.
 
It was barely enough to get the Pittsburgh Pirates (60-39) going in a game where they barely hung on to defeat slumping Washington (48-53), which have lost six in a row and 11 of 13.

The home run by Alvarez was a minor blemish in an otherwise excellent game by Strasburg, who pitched a brilliant eight innings, struck out 12, gave up two hits and walked none.

The young ace was out-dueled, however, by crafty veteran Francisco Liriano, who bounced back from his only poor outing of the year in Cincinnati to turn in a gem of his own.

Liriano went seven and two-thirds, giving up two hits, walking three and striking out eight.

Alvarez’s homerun was the only cause for excitement for the first eight innings while two of the National League’s best pitchers this year went back and forth with an array of dazzling pitches that left both lineups confused and frustrated.

With Pittsburgh’s bullpen depleted with the recent loss of All-Star closer Jason Grilli, it looked to be the first true test for newly anointed closer Mark Melancon and the rest of the “Shark Tank”

The top of the 9th, however, provided an awakening of the bats from three long-since absentee contributors.

Starling Marte broke an 0-for-19 slump with a single after a 10-pitch at bat in the top of the ninth, and he made it count. Neil Walker, recently activated from the disabled list, took a Drew Storen pitch to the gap on a well-timed hit-and-run that allowed Marte to coast home.

Following an intentional walk to Alvarez and Jose Tabata being hit by a pitch, Mike McKenry—batting .193 on the year—dropped a pinch-hit single to pad the lead to 4-0.

In the bottom of the ninth, Justin Wilson stayed in and gave up a two-run homerun to Jayson Werth, his third of the series, cut the lead to 4-2. It was all she wrote for Wilson, but also all the Nationals’ bats could muster.

Melancon came in and nailed down his third save of the year, inducing Denard Span into a double-play to end the game. 
 
ON DECK
The teams finish the four-game set tomorrow at 12:35. A.J. Burnett (4-7, 3.07) faces Gio Gonzalez (7-3, 2.89).

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