Francisco Liriano was good, but Julio Teherán was better, enabling the Atlanta Braves to achieve double digits in the win column and beat the Pirates 3-1. The Pirates will try again for the series win tomorrow night.
After a poor performance against the Cubs in his last start, Liriano was efficient, keeping his pitch count low and inducing mostly soft contact in his seven innings. He faltered only twice. In the top of the third, Daniel Castro reached first when his comebacker to the mound hit Liriano, then dribbled past and eluded him. Castro moved to second on Teherán's sacrifice bunt and to third on a grounder by Ender Inciarte, and Liriano then walked Nick Markakis, bringing up the more-dangerous Freddie Freeman. Freeman's single drove in Castro with the first Braves run. Then in the sixth, the Braves, who have rediscovered the home run as an offensive weapon in Pittsburgh this week, registered their fifth of the series off the bat of Tyler Flowers.
Teherán was equally efficient, but more effective. The Pirates managed only three hits against him through seven innings despite hitting a few balls deep to the outfield, including one by Liriano with one on in the fifth, that were skillfully tracked down by Inciarte.
The Pirates had their best chance in the bottom of the eighth. After another of the aforementioned deep fly outs to center by Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer singled for the Pirates' fourth hit, and pinch hitter David Freese got a grounder just past short for another one. John Jaso grounded into a fielder's choice that erased pinch-runner Alen Hansen at short, bringing up Andrew McCutchen with runners on first and third and two outs. Despite Teherán's pitch count of only 91 to that point, skipper Brian Snitker went to hard-throwing reliever Arodys Vizcaino. McCutchen just got under a fastball and flew out to center to end the threat.
After Jared Hughes had pitched a scoreless eighth around a two-out double by Flowers, Clint Hurdle provided Arquimedes Caminero with another opportunity in the ninth to remain a hot topic on the sports talk shows, and in that he did not disappoint. He walked the first batter he faced, old friend Chase d'Arnaud, who moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a double by pinch-hitter Gordon Beckham. But despite also giving up a bloop single to Inciarte, Caminero escaped with an inning-ending double play. Since pitching a perfect 1-2-3 inning in his first outing this year, Caminero has not had one since. This will not do, and something is going to have to happen before too much longer.
The bottom of the ninth was quiet except for a majestic blast by Jung-Ho Kang. There will be more of those.