Friday, July 5, 2013

The Cisco Kid Goes The Distance In 6-2 Win Over Cubs

Well, good start against Jeff Samardzija; Starling Marte rolled the first ball up the middle for a knock. Then Neil Walker banged into a 3-6 DP over the bag with the step on first and tag at second. Cutch lined a single, and Garrett Jones flew out. A couple hits is encouraging, though. The Cubs got a two out knock from Dioner Navarro, but The Cisco Kid put up a couple of K's, so it was scoreless after one.

The Bucs got on the board in the second. Russell Martin doubled with an out, and Jordy Mercer was intentionally walked to get to Liriano with two down. Frankie came through by dropping a soft liner into left, scoring Martin as Mercer was tossed out at third, drawing the throw to make sure Martin got in (though Soriano's throw did end up being weak, it was from short left). The Pirates have one run but have left a couple chances go by the boards already. A leadoff walk to Cody Ransom cost Francisco; an out later Scott Hairston banged a heater over the wall in left center to put Chicago up 2-1.

Pittsburgh had a quick reply. Marte singled and jogged home on Walker's triple. A walk to Cutch followed by  a Garrett Jones knock put the Bucs ahead and left Pirates on the corners. After an out, Martin went down swinging, but the Bucs were on the move; Cutch swiped home on the backside of a double steal with Jones as a high throw went to second, and the Pirates were up 4-2. Liriano again refused to retire the side in order, walking Navarro with two outs before ending the frame.

Mercer walked and was bunted to second to open the fourth, but there he stayed. The Cubs went down in order finally. In the fifth, Jones tripled with an out and came home on a two out infield knock by a hustling JT while the Cubs again went down 1-2-3.

Samardzija walked Frankie to open the sixth; a tapper to third moved him to second. Then Walker drew a free pass, and a force put runners on the corners. Another force out closed out the frame. With an out, Navarro legged out a soft roller on the right side when Liriano couldn't find the bag, but two force outs shut down the Cubbies.

Henry Rodriguez took the hill in the seventh as Samardzija's day was done. With two down, JT banged a 3-2 heater to right for the Bucs' third triple of the afternoon. Mercer was intentionally walked, and The Cisco Kid almost came through again, lining out to left center. Anthony Rizzo drew a full count walk, watching a borderline call fall his way. But no prob; Hairston rolled a shoe top change to Mercer to start a 6-4-3 DP. Darwin Barney hit a comebacker, and The Cisco Kid continued his dealin'.

Hector Rondon took his turn in the eighth. Marte greeted him by slapping a heater into center and quickly swiped second. Walker moved him over with a grounder to second. Navarro, faking a throw to third, hit his elbow on Cutch's bat and went down for awhile. He rallied, probably catching his funny bone. Cutch then brought Marte home with a bouncer to short. The Bucs loaded the bases when Gaby singled up the middle, Pedro dropped a soft broken bat dink into left and Martin walked, but JT's a roller up the middle was turned into a force. The Bucs have a 6-2 edge, and that's with 13 stranded runners.

Liriano, at 87 pitches, came out for the Cub half. With two down, Starlin Castro doubled off the wall in center, and Navarro, with a pair of hits, was up. As The Cisco Kid served up ball three, Martin saw Castro with a big jump off second, snapped a throw right over the bag in plenty of time to catch him, and Liriano put up another zero.

Pedro Strop, newly acquired from the O's, worked a clean ninth, getting a pair of bouncers and a fly to the track from Marte. Liriano took the hill for the final mile. Frankie put a cherry on top by snaring Navarro's ball through the box between his legs with his back to the plate (no diff that with the shift, it was hit straight at Neil Walker if Liriano let it go). After a grounder, he got ahead of Ransom 0-2, then walked him. Rizzo was his last batter no matter what, and a soft roller to second ended it.

The Cisco Kid had his complete game and a 6-2 win, his eighth victory of the year. His line was nine IP with two runs, four hits, four walks and seven K while tossing 111 pitches. Funny how everybody is up in arms about Jeff Locke's All-Star chances; seems like Francisco (8-3, 2.20 ERA) should get some love, too.

Every Pirate in the lineup, even defensive sub Gaby Sanchez, reached base, though Mercer did it the hard way by drawing three walks; the rest all had at least a hit. And Pittsburgh added four stolen sacks while the Cubs had one runner picked off.

Well, good way for the Bucs to get back on their bike. They haven't lost back-to-back games since being swept by Atlanta  between June 3rd-5th. Charlie Morton takes on Edwin Jackson tomorrow afternoon.

  • Francisco Liriano threw the first complete game of the year for the Bucs, and only the second of his career. He also picked up his first Pirate RBI and third of his career. The last time he did either was in 2011 with the Twins; his complete game was his no-no against the White Sox.
  • Starling Marte, with three knocks, has stretched his hit streak to 10 games.
  • The last Pirate swipe of home on a double steal was by renowned speedster Ryan Doumit at Boston on 6/17/05.
  • Today was Pittsburgh's first three-triple game since 6/8/2009 against Atlanta when Cutch had a pair and Freddy Sanchez added another.
  • The Cubs are now 17-23 at Wrigley Field.

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