Pittsburgh, PA – Francisco Liriano tossed eight innings of two-hit ball as the Pittsburgh Pirates took a 5-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals to open a crucial three-game NL Central battle.
The Pirates had dropped four of five coming in, while the Cardinals had taken six of their last eight games to hold a one-game lead over the Pirates coming into the series.
With the win, though, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are now tied for the top spot in the NL Central.
Liriano (15-6) walked two and struck out six while keeping St. Louis from reached second base during his outing.
"He's very determined right now," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Liriano.
Garrett Jones went 3-for-4 with a solo home run and four RBI while Russell Martin added a solo homer for Pittsburgh, which got two hits and a run scored from Jose Tabata and Neil Walker.
Shelby Miller (12-9) was touched for all five runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings for St. Louis, which got two of its four hits from Matt Holliday.
"I made some mistakes with some pitches and they put good swings on it," Miller said of his outing. "At the end of the day they just played better than us."
The Pirates jumped on top in the first inning as the team loaded the bases with one out and, after Marlon Byrd struck out, Jones stroked a double to right for a 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back home runs from Jones and Martin to start the fourth gave Pittsburgh a 4-0 advantage.
In the fifth, Byrd doubled with one out and Jones followed with a single to left that plated Byrd for a 5-0 advantage.
Liriano allowed a man on base in each of the first three innings, but not one of them made it to second base and he set the Cards down in order in the fourth and fifth.
After giving up a two-out single to Holliday in the sixth, Liriano pitched a flawless seventh and a 10-pitch eighth.
Mark Melancon gave up consecutive one-out single in the ninth, but got Yadier Molina to hit into a double play to end the game.
Liriano is the first Pittsburgh southpaw to win more than 14 games in a season since John Smiley (20-8) and Zane Smith (16-10) in 1991 ... The Pirates have won nine of the 14 games against the Cardinals this season ... Liriano moved to 8-3 in 11 starts against the NL Central this season.