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Francisco Liriano trounces Padres in 3-1 win

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Yet again, with the Pirates needing a win, Francisco Liriano came through in a big way. This time, he whiffed 13 Padres while leading the Bucs to a 3-1 victory.

Liriano had a remarkable eight strikeouts through three innings and nine through 3.1. He got into a bit of trouble in the fourth, when he walked Chase Headley with two outs and then gave up a double to Logan Forsythe. After walking Nick Hundley, though, Liriano got our old friend Ronny Cedeno to end the threat. In the fifth, Chris Denorfia doubled, but got stranded.

Other than that, the Padres never came particularly close to scoring off Liriano, who lasted seven innings. The Pirates, meanwhile, got two in the fourth when Andrew McCutchen singled and Pedro Alvarez followed with a single of his own. The ball went under Denorfia's glove and rolled deep into the outfield, and both runners made it around to score on the error. Then, in the sixth, Alvarez hit a real home run, his 31st of the year.

The Padres got a run off Mark Melancon in the ninth on Hundley's RBI double, but Melancon whiffed Mark Kotsay to end the game. It was a fitting end to the game -- Pirates pitchers (including Justin Wilson as well as Liriano and Melancon) had 17 strikeouts on the night.

The Cardinals and Reds both won, so the Pirates maintained a one-game lead in the NL Central.