The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the San Diego Padres 6-2 Friday night as Francisco Liriano tossed another gem, but the bullpen was not able to hold the lead. Liriano went six innings, surrendering just three hits and a walk while striking out 11 hitters. In his last 12 innings of work, Liriano has struck out an 23 hitters and walked just three.
The Pirates scored two runs in the third inning when Pedro Alvarez slapped a ball through the shift and into left field that brought in Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. These two runs would be all the team could muster off of a total of six hits last night.
Liriano departed from the game after the sixth inning and Jared Hughes replaced him. Hughes was only able to record one out, and in the process gave up the tying runs when Abraham Almonte‘s double scored Will Middlebrooks and Jedd Gyorko. Arquimedes Caminero took over for Hughes and got the last two outs, but not without walking a batter.
The eighth inning represented a good opportunity to get the runs back, with Starling Marte, Jung Ho Kang and Alvarez due up. Kang was able to reach base by drawing a walk, but the hitters that came after him were not able to knock him in.
After a quiet San Diego eighth and Pittsburgh ninth, Rob Scahill was brought in with the task of taking the game to extra innings if the winning streak was to continue. Gyorko started the inning by taking a walk and Almonte came up and attempted to sacrifice him to second. Because of a throwing error by Scahill, Gyorko advanced all the way to third and Almonte was safe at first. The Pirates got Alexi Amarista and Yangervis Solarte to both ground into a fielder’s choice where the fielder chose to throw out the runner at home.
With the game tied and the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (just like out of the movies!) Derek Norris played the role of hero and blasted a grand slam to give the Padres the win. It was an unfortunate loss given because Liriano was in terrific form all night, but the lone error of the evening proved to be costly. The loss puts the Pirates record at 25-23.
What Stood Out
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Liriano was in top form Friday night but baseball is a cruel sport and he did not walk away with a win. Even though he did not get the win, it was still a quality start by any definition. On most nights when the offense is clicking a little better he would get the decision. He continues to strike out more hitters than innings pitched and he has had only two really bad outings so far this season. If Liriano continues to pitch like this, he’ll give the Pirates a very formidable 1-2-3 punch in the rotation.
When a team only scores two runs, there isn’t much to discuss offensively. But it was nice to see Pedro Alvarez once again beat the shift. He poked that ball right through the left side and had the Padres been set in a more traditional infield arrangement, an out surely would have come out of it. But instead his hit knocked in two and gave the Pirates the lead, at least momentarily. As mentioned in a previous recap, the quickest way Alvarez can get teams to stop shifting on him is to do what he did Friday night.
The series with the San Diego Padres continues tonight at 10:10 PM when Charlie Morton and Tyson Ross take the mound for their clubs. Morton will look to build on his strong season debut last time out and get the Pittsburgh Pirates back on track. Ross doesn’t give up many home runs and more often than not this year he has pitched into the sixth inning in his starts.