“A professional outing,” manager Clint Hurdle said about Liriano’s start. “He struggled with his rhythm [in the first], the strikeout to get the third out in the inning helped a little bit and from the second inning on his rhythm on the mound improved.”
In the sixth, the Pirate offense sealed the deal with five hits in a row—the most consecutive hits in an inning to-date this season—which included RBI singles by Snider, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Neil Walker. With the score at 7-1, the bullpen coasted through the final three innings to seal the Pirates’ third consecutive win against Milwaukee (16-23) and a series victory after losing Monday night.
The way the Pirates won the four-game series—losing the first of four, and winning the next three—marked the fourth time this season the Bucs have done business in four-game series this season.
“I had no idea this was how you go about winning a four-game series, by losing the first game,” Hurdle deadpanned after the game. “Figure what the odds are of that, you lose the first game of one series, win three, ok, you do it a second series, alright, you do it a third series, four series—that’s kind of crazy. But that’s the beauty of the game, you gotta go play it on the field.”
The deciding blow that helped Pittsburgh take control of the series came in the fifth inning. Starling Marte led off with single, and Snider followed by hammering a pitch from Milwaukee starter Hiram Burgos into the Allegheny River while traveling an estimated 458 feet.
“We were looking for somebody to start something, and that swing of the bat did,” Hurdle said. “Travis has power, a thing we continue to encourage him to do is become a good hitter that’s got power.”
The home run for Snider was his first since Aug. 10 against San Diego, and comes as a part of what Hurdle calls Snider “finding his way back” offensively.
“I didn’t watch this one, I bat-flipped on a double earlier this year so I wanted to make sure I put my head down and started running and fortunately it went over the fence,” Snider said. “It’s really for me not how far it goes but just getting it over the fence, it’s been a struggle for nine months now so just keeping it one day at a time, invest in the routine, and keep working hard.”
Snider’s home run off Burgos helped hand the Brewers starter the loss, as he finished after that fifth inning and allowed three runs on eight hits, one walk, and one strikeout. But the start comes as an improvement over Burgos’ last outing when he allowed 12 runs in three innings against Cincinnati Saturday.
Burgos’ mound opponent did him one—or two—better, as Liriano pitched five and two-thirds innings and allowed just one run on six hits and three walks. Liriano struck out nine, which included striking out the side in the second.
The second came as an inning that helped Liriano pitch into the sixth, as he allowed a run to score on a RBI single by Jonathan Lucroy which scored Jean Segura after Segura stole second—his major league-leading 14th steal.
“I made a couple of adjustments [in the second], trying to hit my spots. In the first inning I was missing my spots and in the second inning I tried to hit my spots and make good pitches,” Liriano said.
After the first, Liriano shut the Brewers out for the rest of his outing and allowed Milwaukee to put just two men in scoring position. Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, and Jose Contreras worked three and one-third innings to close out the victory, giving up just one hit between the three pitchers.
At 24-17, the Pirates are off to their best 41-game start since 1992—the last season in which they posted a record above .500 and made the postseason. Additionally, the Pirates are now 4-3 against the Brewers this season which marks as many wins as Pittsburgh tallied against Milwaukee in 15 games last season.
Through 41 games though, Hurdle and the Pirates remain focused on what there is to do and not what has been even after taking three of four from Milwaukee, capped off with an emphatic six-run victory.
“We’ve played them seven times, we’ve won four—we don’t take it much deeper than that,” Hurdle said. “You’ve gotta play good baseball from the start to the finish.”