After last night’s terrible performance by Jeff Locke in a 9-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates desperately needed a strong showing from their starting pitcher. Tonight, Francisco Liriano did just that, putting forth one of his best starts of the season, as the Pirates beat the Brewers 5-3 in the rubber match of this three game series at PNC Park.
Liriano improved to 6-9 on the season, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits with 13 strikeouts and zero walks in 6.2 innings. Neftali Feliz got the final out in the seventh, Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth, and Mark Melancon earned his 28th save of the season with an easy ninth.
The Pirates got on the board early against Milwaukee starter Matt Garza. Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen drew one-out walks in the first inning, and Matt Joyce stepped to the plate and hammered a line drive homerun to deep right field, giving the Bucs a 3-0 lead.
The two teams traded runs in the third inning. Jonathan Villar hit a no-doubt homerun to deep center field to get the Brewers on the board, but a Joyce ground out scored Polanco to once again make it a three run game at 4-1.
Three straight two out singles by Eric Fryer, Liriano, and Adam Frazier gave the Bucs a 5-1 lead after four innings, and Liriano was cruising.
Unfortunately, he was not able to finish the seventh inning as his pitch count raised, he began to tire, and a few blunders in the field allowed the Brewers to crawl back into the game. Hernan Perez’s double scored Ryan Braun, and Scooter Gennett’s groundout scored Perez, cutting the lead to 5-3.
Milwaukee would get one more shot to draw closer in the eighth inning off Watson, but with two on and two outs, Braun grounded out weakly to short to end the threat.
This was a big win for the Pirates tonight. These are types of games and series they need to win consistently. We have been hearing for weeks now that this is the easy part of the Pirates schedule from here on out, and now they need to take advantage of this. If they are going to make up any ground in the division or the wild card, they need to beat the teams below them. Every game is of equal importance from this moment going forward, and this was a good start to the home stand.
The Pirates will welcome their cross state foes, the Philadelphia Phillies to town for the first a three game series tomorrow night at PNC Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.
Record vs. Brewers: 4-2
Record vs. N.L. Central: 19-20
Record at Home: 26-21
Overall Record: 49-46
Let’s Go Bucs!