Stephen Strasburg pitched a gem against the Pirates tonight, but Pedro Alvarez took him deep in the second inning. That was the main difference between Strasburg's great start and the great start that Francisco Liriano made for the Bucs. Liriano flirted with a no-hitter for a while, and ended up turning in 7 2/3 shutout innings, striking out eight, walking three, and only allowing two hits. Since his first start after the break against the Reds was a bit uneven, seeing him get back on track is a really positive sign.
Both bullpens faltered a bit after the great starts from Liriano and Strasburg; Drew Storen got into a ton of trouble in the ninth inning and Fernando Abad couldn't clean up his mess, while Justin Wilson served up a two-run homer to Jayson Werth that made things interesting before Mark Melancon closed the game down with what may or may not have been a phantom double play.
Of course, what's important is that the Pirates got a great start from Liriano, that they beat Stephen Strasburg, and that they have their three wins from the Nats regardless of what happens tomorrow afternoon. Four wins in a row makes those two frustrating losses in Cincinnati right after the break feel like they happened a million years ago.