I thought that it would be hard for Francisco Liriano to be better tonight than he was last Wednesday against the Cardinals. In the first three innings, Liriano faced 11 batters and struck out eight of them. He worked seven shutout innings in total, striking out 13, walking two, and scattering four hits. In his last two starts, he's pitched 16 innings, struck out 19, walked three, and given up one run on eight hits. He's been ridiculous since his disastrous outing in Colorado. Tonight, it seemed like it was legitimately unfair to make the Padres' hitters bat against him.
All three runs of Pirate offense came off of Pedro Alvarez's bat, though Chris Denorfia helped him out quite a bit. With Andrew McCutchen on first and nobody out in the fourth inning, Alvarez singled to Denorfia in right and instead of fielding or even slowing the ball down, Denorfia whiffed on the ball entirely and both McCutchen and Alvarez scored without even so much as a throw to the plate. Alvarez came up again in the sixth inning obviously horrified at having to make his way around the bases the hard way again, and so he obliterated a hanging slider from Andrew Cashner for his 31st home run.
If you are the optimistic type, it would not be inaccurate to say that the Pirates are 3-3 in their last six games, which certainly sounds better than 3-7 in their last ten. The win keeps them in first place for another day; both the Cardinals and the Reds won, so the top of the NL Central standings are unchanged.