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Francisco Liriano helps Pirates avoid apocalypse, notch 5-0 win


The Pirates, whose season was, until late tonight, collapsing just as surely as Rome or the Yarmouth Bridge or the Greek economy, did a miraculous 180, as the Pirates' 5-0 victory over the A's helped the Pirates rise from the rubble, more powerful than ever, and take confident strides toward winning the World Series and saving the planet.

After a lengthy rain delay, Francisco Liriano emerged to pitch seven brilliant innings, striking out six and walking one while allowing four hits.

"He was just on top of his game," Clint Hurdle said.

The offense, meanwhile, scored three runs in the third. Starling Marte and Jose Tabata led off the inning with consecutive doubles. Andrew McCutchen dumped a single into right to bring Tabata home, and Pedro Alvarez brought in another run with a single two batters later.

"You get one more, you get one more. Before you know it, one turns into three. We've had a lot of ones," Hurdle said. "The threes have been elusive."

Russell Martin and Alvarez hit RBI singles the following inning to make it 5-0.

After Liriano's departure, Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez finished out the game for the Bucs. 2011 A's first-round pick Sonny Gray made his MLB debut as a reliever, striking out three batters in two scoreless innings for Oakland.

The Pirates are off Thursday, and it's a relief that they won tonight -- I wouldn't have wanted to check my email tomorrow if they hadn't.

David Manel contributed to this post.