PIRATES 8 – DIAMONDBACKS 0
Francisco Liriano pitched into the seventh inning in a combined three-hitter and the Pittsburgh Pirates completed their first sweep in Arizona with an 8-0 win over the Diamondbacks on Sunday. It was the Pirates first road sweep of an NL club since 2007.
The Pirates improved to 11-8 on the season, after a 3-6 start.
“We’re playing better baseball and it continues to start with our mound work,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
In the three game sweep of the Diamondbacks, the Pirates got effective starts from their Big three in the rotation, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Liriano, which has been the case all season.
Liriano walked six but his seven strikeouts countered his iffy fastball command, allowing just two hits in 6 1/3 innings. Liriano has allowed three earned runs or less in 10 straight starts and now has wins against 29 of 30 MLB teams, Miami being the one he doesn’t.
Run support for A.J. Burnett has been a struggle but Liriano got all the run support he needed in the Pirates putting up eight runs.
Neil Walker had three hits, going 3-4 with 2 RBI, and Gregory Polanaco also had a three hit day. Walker was 7-12 in the three game series. Four of his seven hits were doubles.
Josh Harrison and Starling Marte each had two hits and Pedro Alvarez drove in two runs.
The Pirates five game winning streak has came at at time without Andrew McCutchen being a factor at the plate. McCutchen batting .186 on the season, is 1-17 over his last six games.
He broke an 0-for-16 slump in the fifth inning and had a sacrifice fly in the ninth, driving in his first run in seven games. McCutchen will likely be happy to be heading to Wrigley Field as he’s a career .359 hitter with an OPS of 1.001.
A sign of a good ball club is one that has others pick up the slack when their star player is in the midst of a slump. Whether it’s starting pitching or a Starling Marte stepping up one night, Josh Harrison another night, the Pirates have the right combination clicking right now with McCutchen in the midst of a mini-slump.