Pittsburgh, PA – Francisco Liriano pitched seven shutout innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the Chicago Cubs, 1-0, in the middle test of a three-game series.
Liriano (3-0) had nine strikeouts and allowed just two hits and a walk in his outing.
The 29-year-old Liriano signed with the Pirates this past offseason, but injured his non-throwing arm and began the season on the disabled list. Since making his season debut on May 11, he has given up only two runs over 18 innings.
Mark Melancon allowed runners on first and second in the ninth, but escaped trouble to notch his first save of the season.
Garrett Jones drove in the lone run of the game, a two-out single off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (2-6) in the first inning that scored Andrew McCutchen.
"We're going to just fight, we're going to do what we can," said McCutchen. He's (Samardzija) done pretty well against us. It was good to get the one run in the first inning and go from there."
Samardzija fanned eight and gave up three hits and a walk over seven frames. However, the lack of offense prevented him from getting the win.
"Once again, we just seem to waste these starting outings," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "It's just unbelievable how these kind of things happen, to have this kind of starting pitching and just can't score any runs."
The Cubs' best chance to score was in the third. Cody Ransom singled to start the inning and reached second when Darwin Barney drew a walk. Samardzija was up next and he reached first, thanks to an errant throw by Liriano, to load the bases with none out.
However, Julio Borbon grounded into a fielder's choice towards first as Ransom was forced out at the plate. Starlin Castro then struck out and Anthony Rizzo's flied out to end the frame and squandered Chicago's opportunity.
Liriano surrendered just one other hit, a single by Welington Castillo with one out in the seventh.
Melancon came on to pitch in the ninth. Alfonso Soriano struck out to lead off, but was able to reach first on a wild pitch. He was forced out at second, however, after Nate Schierholtz grounded into a fielder's choice. Melancon then gave up a single to Castillo, but got Ryan Sweeney and Barney to pop out and end the game.
McCutchen went 2-for-4 with a stolen base ... Castillo was 2-for-4 ... Liriano threw 91 pitches, while Samardzija left after 111 pitches ... Soriano played in his 1,800th career game ... Pittsburgh lefties are 8-1 at PNC Park this season.