PNC Park – The Pirates started off their 5-game in four day stretch against the first place Cardinals with a dominating 9 – 2 victory Monday night bringing them to within a ½ game of the Cards for the NL Central Lead.
Francisco Liriano helped his Cy Young chances by throwing 7 innings of two-hit, one run ball while striking out eight. He experienced a bit of trouble in the fourth when he allowed back-to-back singles with one out. He would then strike out Allen Craig and Yadier Molina to end the threat and quiet a red-hot Cardinals club with runners in scoring position (RISP). “He just got back on the mound and made pitches and gets out two very dangerous hitters,” said manager, Clint Hurdle. “He strikes out Craig and I thing he gets Molina afterwards. Frankie can answer, he’s been a part of big matchups before.”
He would walk back-to-back batters with two out in the seventh and work Pete Kozma to a 3-2 count before getting him to fly out to center to end the inning and Liriano’s night. The only run Liriano would allow came in the sixth when pinch-hitter, Tony Cruz tripled to right-center and scored on a Matt Carpenter RBI single.
The Pirates would have a better time with RISP as they would get on the board with four runs in their first four batters. Jose Tabata would walk and Neil Walker would be hit by pitch. Andrew McCutchen would then come up and knock an RBI single up the middle to make it 1 – 0. Pedro Alvarez would then come up and continue hit hot hitting against Cardinals pitching by taking a first-pitch sinker into the Clemente seats to make it 4 – 0.
The Buccos would then put it out of reach in the seventh by tallying five runs on four hits. They would load the bases with one out before the bottom of the order went to work. Gaby Sanchez hit an RBI sac fly (The first for the Pirates in two months), Alex Presley would hit an RBI single, Clint Barmes would knock in two with a double to the North Side Notch and Starling Marte would hit a pinch-hit RBI single to end the scoring.
Tony Watson would throw a perfect eighth and rookie, Vic Black would get into a jam by allowing a run while loading the bases with one out, but he would strike out pinch-hitter, Matt Adams and get Daniel Descalso to fly out to end it. “Every game counts for us. Every game counts for me,” said Liriano. “I’m just not trying to put too much pressure on myself. I just go out there and have fun, locate my pitches and have fun. That’s all that matters right now.”
Final Score: Pirates 9, Cardinals 2.
With the win, the Pirates can take first place in the NL Central in the first game of tomorrow’s double header.
Liriano (W, 11 – 4): 7 IN, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K’s. 102 Pitches (61 Strikes)
Westbrook (L, 7 – 5): 5 IN, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K’s, 3 HP, 1 HR. 100 Pitches (56 Strikes)
Game one of tomorrow’s double header will begin at 4:05.
(RHP) A.J. Burnett (PIT): 4 – 7, 2.96 ERA
(RHP) Lance Lynn (STL): 12 – 5, 3.98 ERA
(LHP) Tyler Lyons (STL): 2 – 3, 5.51 ERA
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(Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar )