Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Washington Nationals 7-3 off of Liriano’s strong start


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The Pittsburgh Pirates needed a strong start from Francisco Liriano last night and he delivered, striking out eleven and only giving up one run in six innings of work. He evened his record to 6-6 and will take an ERA of less than three into his next start. He and the offense helped to put the  1-5 road trip behind them in last night’s 7-3 win. The Pirates stand at 55-40 entering action tonight, 6 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to the game it was announced that the Pirates acquired former Pirate Aramis Ramirez, bringing some much needed power to the recently depleted left side of the infield. But the offense came together in a big way last night and got started right away. With two outs in the first, Starling Marte tripled to left field and scored Andrew McCutchen. They added another run in the second when Pedro Alvarez connected for his 13th home run of the year.

The Nationals got on the board in the fifth inning when Liriano fired off a wild pitch and Clint Robinson scored, but that would be the only run he would give up in the game. The Pirates added two more runs in their half of the inning. Marte scored on Jung Ho Kang‘s double, and Kang advanced to third on the throw. Alvarez would follow with a ground out to Doug Fister which brought in Kang.

The Pirates put the game away in the late innings off of a two run shot by McCutchen (13) in the seventh and a solo home run from the bat of Francisco Cervelli (5) in the eighth. Working with a six run lead in the ninth inning and no outs, Arquimedes Caminero made things interesting by giving up a two run home run to Ian Desmond. That was all the Nationals could do as Caminero retired three of the next four hitters to secure a win for Pittsburgh.

What Stood Out

Since Liriano missed his last start due to tightness in his neck, it was a positive sign to seem him pitch so well against a strong Washington team. He only gave up three base hits and only one of these went for extra bases. Of his 11 strikeouts, two of those belonged to MVP candidate Bryce Harper. A collective sign of relief can be heard from the fan base, especially given the rash of injuries to the team in the last few weeks.

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Offensively, the Pirates were able to keep adding on throughout the game with home runs. Alvarez probably was able to silence some of the grumbling with his home run. And no strikeouts! The top eight batters all registered a hit, and outside of Gregory Polanco and Brent Morel, all had at least one run scored or one RBI. This should change as soon as Saturday when Ramirez takes over at third base.

What’s Next

Maz Scherzer and Jeff Locke will face off in the second game of the series tonight at 7:05pm. Scherzer, who is putting together a fantastic season with a record of 10-8 and a 2.08 ERA faced the Pirates back on June 20th and tossed a no-hitter. Locke is coming off of losses in his last two outings and will look to pitch like he did on July 4th when he kept the Cleveland Indians off the board through eight innings.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates series takeaways vs. Kansas City Royals