Cutch got a two out infield knock in the third for the Bucco damage; Frankie tossed another clean frame. Neil Walker opened the fourth by dropping a single into left; a Freese boot of Jones' ball put runners on first and second. An out later, Tony Sanchez banged one through the left side to bring home The Kid. After a Liriano bunt, Starling Marte picked up a big two out, two strike knock, singling into center to score the pair and legging it into a double for some icing (with a risk factor; Sanchez hadn't crossed home before the play at second). Jordy Mercer bounced out, but the Bucs did what they couldn't last night; they added on to make it 5-0. Carlos Beltran singled to open the St. Louis half, but after a K was doubled off first when Jones snagged Holliday's liner.
The fifth started out with promise as Cutch singled, but he quickly was caught stealing on a strike thrown by C Ted Cruz. The Bucs tried to mount a two out rally with a Walker double followed by a Jones walk, but Miller got Andrew Lambo swinging. Liriano had another dominant frame, with two K and a comebacker. The Bucs went down in order in the sixth, and the Cards would have too but for Mercer's two out error. The Cisco Kid got Beltran to pop out, and is sitting on 69 pitches after six frames.
Michael Wacha took the ball in the seventh for St. Louis and retired the Bucs routinely. Allen Craig drew a four pitch walk to open for the Redbirds. Holliday cleaned that up, falling behind 0-2 before banging into a 6-4-3 DP. He closed the frame with another grounder; through seven, no Cardinal has reached second base yet. The Bucs went down in order in the eighth, and Clint Hurdle then sent Gaby and JT in as defensive replacements. Liriano got three more ground outs and was sitting pretty at just 83 pitches.
Randy Choate toed the rubber in the ninth and struck out the side. With an out in the ninth, Matt Carpenter doubled to right, went to third on a wild pitch, and a Beltran grounder brought him home. That was it; Francisco was dominant in a 5-1 victory.
It was a big time performance. Not only did he wash away the taste of yesterday's give-away loss and end a four game losing streak, but he cleared the bullpen for action tomorrow with his four hit gem.
AJ Burnett closes the series against Lance Lynn tomorrow afternoon in the rubber match.
- Neil Walker has a nine game hitting streak.
- This is the second time this season Francisco has been the stopper to end a four-game Pirate losing string. Tonight was also the second complete game of the season for Liriano and third of his career, the other being his 2011 no-hitter, which remains his only complete game shutout.
- Jeff Locke joined the bullpen as an insurance policy after yesterday's overtime game.
- Don't look behind you: Cincy has been on a roll . They're just 3-1/2 games off the Pirates' NL Central pace and 1/2 game behind St. Louis.