The Pittsburgh Pirates (45-33) completed the sweep of the Detroit Tigers Thursday afternoon with a score of 8-4. Neil Walker, once again, highlighted the box score. He was 4 for 5 on the day while driving in 3 runs, 2 of them on a 2-run double in the top of the 9th to provide insurance. Francisco Liriano hurled a gem today with 7 shutout innings, striking out 5 batters and walking 3. Manager Clint Hurdle handed the ball to the bullpen to secure the final six outs, but they made it more interesting than it needed to be. Antonio Bastardo struggle to get out of the 8th inning by allowing 3 men to score, nearly giving up a 4-0 lead. Tony Watson came in a recorded the final out of the 8th. The Pirates answered in the 9th, scoring four runs on a McCutchen RBI double, Walker’s 2-run double, and a Sean Rodriguez RBI groundout. Vance Worley also struggled to close out the game in the 9th allowing 3 runs (2 unearned). Mark Melancon came in to get the final out, recording his 25th save of the season. The Cardinals dropped their third straight game to the San Diego Padres with a score of 5-3 in 11 innings, bringing the Pirates to within 6 games back in the NL Central.
The Pirates offense showed up again today after racking up 21 hits in the previous game. Francisco Cervelli hit a solo home run in the 4th inning. The Buccos tallied one more run in each of the next 3 innings on a McCutchen sacrifice fly in the 5th, a Neil Walker RBI single in the 6th, and a Starling Marte RBI single in the 7th. Walker continues to rake at Comerica Park, upping his career average at the Tigers ballpark to a whopping .490.
Liriano’s 7 shutout innings brought his season ERA down to 2.99 and improved his record to 5-6.
The Pirates return to PNC Park to begin a 10 game home stand before the All-Star Break. They have two 3-game series with Cleveland and San Diego, then a pivotal 4-game series with the division-leading Cardinals.
Charlie Morton (6-1, 4.28 ERA) takes on Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer (6-5, 3.96 ERA) tomorrow night at 7:05 ET.