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Pirates turn to Liriano versus Giants

Gerrit Cole did not disappoint in his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Francisco Liriano hasn't given the Pirates much to complain about either this season.

Liriano faces the San Francisco Giants for the first time in his career on Wednesday night when the two clubs continue their three-game series at PNC Park.

Signed by the Pirates as a free agent in February, Liriano is 4-2 with a 1.75 earned run average in six starts, giving the Pittsburgh rotation a nice boost after missing the start of the campaign with a fractured right arm.

The left-hander has yielded one run or fewer in five of his six outings, including a tough-luck 2-0 setback to Cincinnati on June 1. Liriano struck out 11 over six innings of one-run ball, but lost his second straight start.

However, he rebounded on Friday by holding Chicago scoreless over seven innings of a 2-0 victory. The 29-year-old limited the Cubs to a pair of hits and five walks while striking out eight.

"It was one of those days when you're missing your spots. I was missing with everything," Liriano admitted. "But you have to compete to the end. And (catcher Russell Martin) called a great game."

Great could be a fair description of Cole's debut in Tuesday's 8-2 victory. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft out of UCLA, Cole held the Giants to a pair of runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings with no walks.

Cole retired 13 straight at one point and after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, he plated the first two runs of the game with a single in the bottom of the frame.

"I wasn't nervous before the game and that was kind of weird," said Cole. "The guys made some nice defensive plays and I was able to get a hit, so that helps."

Pedro Alvarez went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI for the Pirates, who have won three of their last four games. Starling Marte added a solo home run in the victory.

Tim Lincecum continued to struggle on the road as he gave up four runs -- two earned -- on seven hits with a pair of walks in just 4 2/3 innings for the Giants. He fell to 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six outings away from home on the season.

"I was throwing some bad pitches that weren't even near the zone," said Lincecum. "And the ones I did get over there they were able to get good swings on."

Brett Pill and Tony Abreu each drove in a run for the Giants, who were aiming for a third straight victory but instead saw their list of wounded players grow.

Already without outfielder Angel Pagan due to a left hamstring injury, third baseman Pablo Sandoval was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game because of a nagging left foot strain.

Then during Tuesday's contest, infielder Marco Scutaro was hit on the hand by a pitch in the seventh inning and suffered an injury to his left pinky. The extent of the injury is unknown, but he is highly unlikely to play tonight.

Sandoval is hitting .289 with a club-leading 37 RBI, while Scutaro is tops on the Giants with a .332 average.

Barry Zito will try to do Wednesday what Lincecum failed to do in the opener: put a halt to his road struggles this season. The veteran lefty is 0-3 with a 10.19 ERA in four starts away from home in 2013.

Zito has offset that with some solid outings at home, but he picked up his first setback in San Francisco of this season on Wednesday with a 4-0 loss versus Toronto. Zito allowed all four of the Blue Jays' runs in the fifth inning, yielding a total of seven hits and three walks over the six-inning outing.

The 35-year-old lost for the third time in his past four decisions and is 4-4 on the season with a 4.06 ERA in 12 starts. Zito is 2-3 in his career versus the Pirates with a 3.73 ERA in seven starts.

The Giants and Pirates split six meetings a season ago, with each team taking two of three at home.