Francisco Liriano emerged victorious from a pitchers' duel against Stephen Strasburg as the Pirates beat the Nationals Wednesday, 4-2.
Liriano went 7.2 innings, striking out eight and walking three and allowing no runs. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when Pedro Alvarez couldn't handle a grounder from Anthony Rendon. The last batter Liriano faced was Scott Hairston, who took a nasty slider for strike three.
Strasburg was flat-out great, using his curve, his terrific change and 98-MPH heat to flummox Pirates hitters, who struck out 12 times against him. But he did leave a fastball up a bit for Pedro Alvarez to smack a line-drive homer, his 26th of the season, in the second.
If you didn't watch, you may now be wondering how the score got to be 4-2. Drew Storen relieved Strasburg in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Starling Marte, then a double to Neil Walker. With one out, Storen intentionally walked Alvarez, and after striking out Gaby Sanchez, he hit Jose Tabata to load the bases. Then Michael McKenry, starting in place of Russell Martin, got a big hit (with RISP!), bringing in two runs with a single.
In the bottom of the inning, Justin Wilson gave up a leadoff single and then a homer to Jayson Werth, so the Pirates turned to Mark Melancon, who struck out Adam LaRoche, then gave up a single to Wilson Ramos. Denard Span then hit a grounder to Neil Walker, who tagged Ramos and threw to first for the double play. Now that I've gotten to see it a few times, it doesn't look like Walker actually tagged Ramos, so the Nats should have had a man at second and two outs with the tying run at the plate. As it stood, though, the Pirates came away with a 4-2 win, their 60th of the season. They'll go for the sweep tomorrow.