Pirates become first team to win 50
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates are still keeping their other shoe on.
Liriano embodies his team in one fascinating regard. People keep waiting for him to live up to his pedigree and fall apart, just as they wonder when the “real” Pirates will wake up and snap the dream.
Dream on. With Liriano tendering six innings in his familiar tenacious style, the Bucs edged the Brewers, 2-1, Saturday night at PNC Park for their eighth straight win and No. 50 of the season.
Never before in their 127-year history have the Pirates entered July with 50 wins — and they can make it 51 in Sunday’s series finale with Milwaukee.
“It says we’re playing good baseball through the month of June,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “But they don’t break trophies in half. We have to acknowledge we’ve had this team’s best season in 21 years … so far.”
Turning in his sixth authoritative quality start out of 10, Liriano made solo homers by Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones stand up. The Bucs have also won eight consecutive one-run decisions at home.
“We’ve won a number of games that way. It’s a staple, more than anything else,” Hurdle said. “Two big swings of the bat.”
And 91 swings of Liriano’s big left arm, one for each pitch he delivered while allowing seven hits and a run in six innings. He had to repeatedly squirm out of trouble, and he managed to strand six baserunners with clutch deliveries (Milwaukee was 1-for-7 with men in scoring position while he was on the mound) and sharp command, his new calling card. Six strikeouts and one walk improved his season ratio to 67 strikeouts to 23 walks in 60 2/3 innings.
Liriano made it 15 straight games in which Pittsburgh’s starters — none of them named A.J. Burnett or Wandy Rodriguez, the two injured aces — allowed three earned runs or fewer.
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