Liriano, Alvarez lift Pirates to 6-1 victory against Angels


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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Francisco Liriano has had a devilish time pitching against the Angels in his career.

He took Saturday night as an opportunity to exorcise those demons.

Liriano allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings to lead the Pirates to a 6-1 victory against the Angels at Angel Stadium. He struck out six batters and allowed seven hits

He entered the game Saturday with a 1-4 career record against the Angels and a 6.69 ERA. In four career starts at Angel Stadium, that ERA jumped to 7.05.

"Whatever happened in the past, happened," Liriano said. "There's nothing I can do about it. I try and move forward and try to learn from my mistakes in the games that I've pitched before against them."

Those troubles were a faint memory during his 104-pitch performance in Anaheim.

Liriano pitched most of the game with a good cushion behind an offense sparked by Pedro Alvarez, who homered and doubled to continue his recent tear at the plate. The Pirates (45-30) hit three home runs -- all solo homers -- in the victory.

Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates' offense is due for this type of success. Andrew McCutchen agreed.

"It's starting to show a little bit," he said. "Everybody's starting to heat up. It's fun."

The victory gave Liriano his sixth win of the year, tied for the most on the team despite missing more than a month this season while healing from a broken humerus bone in his right, non-throwing arm. Liriano made his first start this season May 11 and has gone 6-3 since.

"Everything's going the way I want it to right now, and I'm just trying to keep doing it," Liriano said.

But he was far from dominant, walking three batters and pitching through a couple jams. Liriano got some help behind him with a pair of strong defensive plays kept the Angels (33-42) off the scoreboard early.

Starling Marte showcased his strong arm in the fourth inning, whipping a throw home from left field to beat Howie Kendrick to the plate. Marte has one of the best outfield arms in the game, and Angels third base coach Dino Ebel either challenged his scouting report or ignored it by sending Kendrick on Erick Aybar's single.

"You don't see a left fielder with that kind of arm very often," Hurdle said, "and that throw was right on the money."

After loading the bases with two outs in the inning, Liriano struck out J.B. Shuck to end the threat.

Gaby Sanchez helped Liriano escape trouble in the third inning. With Mike Trout at the plate and runners on first and second, Trout rocketed a ground ball toward the right side of the infield. Sanchez dived to his right to keep the ball in the infield and threw out Peter Bourjos at second base for a fielder's choice.

Liriano got Albert Pujols to ground out to second base to end the inning.

An RBI single by Trout in the seventh inning ended the Pirates' shutout bid and Liriano's night. The Angels had their best chance to claw back in the game that inning after Bryan Morris walked Pujols to bring Mark Trumbo to the plate with two outs. But Morris struck out Trumbo to keep the Angels away.

For a second consecutive game, Alvarez hit a second-inning home run to give the Pirates an early lead.

He cracked a 1-1 fastball from Angels starter Jerome Williams a couple rows beyond the wall in right field, a solo shot that gave the Pirates a 1-0 advantage. He also gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead with a solo homer Friday night.

For Alvarez, the homer was his 18th of the season and his 50th RBI of the year. Both marks lead the team.

He tattooed another ball in the fifth inning that missed becoming home run No. 19 by about three feet, bouncing off the right-field wall for a double.

The Pirates continued to attack Williams in the second inning, scoring twice more to go ahead, 3-0. Jordy Mercer knocked in his ninth run of the year with a line drive single to left field, scoring Sanchez from third.

Angels third basemen Alberto Callaspo committed a costly error in the inning, bobbling a two-out grounder from Marte that extended the inning and loaded the bases. Russell Martin then drew a walk, scoring Travis Snider.

Williams allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in six innings. He started in place of Jason Vargas, who went on the disabled list Friday with a blood clot in his left arm.

McCutchen drilled his eighth home run of the season, a solo homer in the fifth inning that extended the Pirates' lead to 5-0. McCutchen blasted a first-pitch cut fastball into the Pirates' bullpen nearly 50 feet beyond the left field wall.

Trout took just a few cursory steps in pursuit before watching it sail well over his head.

Sanchez tagged the foul pole in left field in the eighth inning for his sixth homer of the season.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published June 23, 2013 5:15 AM


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