Sep 11, 2014 11:44 PM

Liriano shuts down slumping Phillies offense

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Phillies went cold at the plate and it cost them again.

The Phillies couldn't manage anything against Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano, who struck out a season-high 12 in eight dominant innings, and the Pirates beat Philadelphia 4-1 on Thursday night.

Liriano allowed only six runners, and the Pirates who for the seventh time in eight games to strengthen their hold on the second wild-card spot in the National League.

The Phillies, who have lost six of seven, batted .156 (10-for-64) in their final two games of the four-game series with Pittsburgh. An RBI single in the ninth inning by Carlos Ruiz prevented their 14th shutout loss of the season.

"That's the best I've seen him in a long time," said Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (8-16), who pitched in the Pirates' rotation last season.

Ike Davis and Neil Walker broke out of slumps with RBI hits, and Pittsburgh scored three times in the sixth inning.

Liriano (5-10) got rare run support from his teammates, who had scored three runs or fewer in 13 of the lefthander's last 17 appearances. He struck out at least 12 for the fifth time in his career and won his second consecutive decision.

Mark Melancon allowed one of two runners left by Jared Hughes to score in the ninth, but earned his 29th save in 33 opportunities.

The Phillies threatened in the third inning but they stranded Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis, who both singled with no outs. In the sixth, Marlon Byrd popped out, and Ryan Howard struck out to leave a pair on base.

"He had great stuff with a real good changeup," Galvis said of Liriano. "He had a good night."

Walker went 2-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI, and Russell Martin singled, scored a run and drove in another for Pittsburgh, which took three of four from Philadelphia.

The Pirates got on the board when Davis, in a 2-for-18 slump, singled to score Martin in the second inning.

In the sixth, Walker mired in a 1-for-14 rut doubled in Travis Snider to make it 2-0. Martin added a sacrifice fly, and Gregory Polanco followed with an RBI single.

Liriano cruised through the Phillies' lineup, facing the minimum three batters in five of his eight innings.

Philadelphia struck out 14 times overall.

"Liriano was very effective with his change to both left- and right-handed hitters," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said.


Pirates: LF Starling Marte was briefly back in the lineup. One night after being hit by a pitch in the hand in the first inning, Marte was plunked in the second. Marte left in the third due to discomfort in his left arm, and was replaced by Polanco. ... RHP Charlie Morton, out with a sports hernia since Aug. 15, will throw a light bullpen session on Friday.

Phillies: LF Domonic Brown didn't start because of a bruised left shoulder. He likely wouldn't have played anyway against a left-handed pitcher, Sandberg said. The manager added that there is still no timetable for the return of SS Jimmy Rollins, who strained his left hamstring on Monday.


Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (8-5, 3.89) gets the ball in the opener of three-game series with the visiting Chicago Cubs. Cole, 4-0 against the Cubs, will oppose LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2,2.95).

Phillies: LHP Cole Hamels (8-7, 2.56), who owns the NL's third-lowest ERA, opens the weekend series against visiting Miami. He will face Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (10-6,2.88).


Phillies CF Ben Revere snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a sixth-inning single. It was the longest hitless streak of the season for Revere, who entered in fourth place in the NL batting race.

Pirates: Marte had two streaks end: a 10-game hitting streak and a run of five consecutive multi-hit games.


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