Francisco Liriano threw seven scoreless innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the Chicago Cubs 1-0 in the second game of a three-game set on Wednesday night at PNC Park. The Bucs are now 10 games over the .500 mark with a record of 28-18.
Liriano allowed just two hits, struck out nine and gave up one walk on 91 pitches to improve his record to 3-0 for Pittsburgh. The lefthander threw 14 of his 24 first pitches for strikes, and no Cub made it to third base over Liriano’s final four innings. The former member of the Twins and White Sox is 12-5 against National League teams for his career.
After Tony Watson tossed a scoreless eighth, Mark Melancon allowed runners on first and second in the ninth, but he get out of trouble to pick up his first save of the season. Regular closer Jason Grilli was unavailable due to a heavy recent workload.
Chicago righthander Jeff Samardzija got no offensive help from his teammates as his record dropped to 2-6. He gave up only three hits, fanned eight and walked only one on 111 pitches over seven innings.
The Bucs got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first as Andrew McCutchen doubled to left field to put himself in scoring position. With two outs, Garrett Jones stroked a line-drive single to the gap in right-center field that scored McCutchen to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Jones now leads the team with 25 RBIs.
McCutchen’s play continues to heat up in May as he finished the evening 2 for 4 with two doubles and a stolen base. He is now tied with Starling Marte for the team lead in stolen bases with 10.
Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, but he made three above-average defensive stops at third base to help keep the Cubs off the basepaths.
The Chicago Cubs (18-27) will send righthander Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76 ERA) to the mound at 12:35 p.m. Thursday, while Pittsburgh will counter with righthander Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.78 ERA). The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: Starling Marte leads the team in multi-hit games with 17….Prior to Travis Snider’s big blast Tuesday, the last time a pinch-hit grand slam was hit at PNC Park was in July of 2003 by Craig Wilson against Milwaukee’s Wayne Franklin….Fourteen of Pittsburgh’s 28 wins this season have been come-from-behind victories. That number ties the Bucs with the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves for the MLB lead….The Pirates’ left-handed starters are now 8-1 this season at PNC Park.