Pirates go after sweep of champs

( - Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates saw their season end last season against the San Francisco Giants, but on Wednesday afternoon go for a three-game sweep at AT&T Park.

This series was the first between the clubs since the Giants blanked the Pirates 8-0 to win last season's NL Wild Card Game after Pittsburgh had won four of the six regular-season meetings.

The Pirates have gotten a bit of revenge by taking the first two games of this set and turn to Liriano today looking to finish off their first three-game sweep in San Francisco since Aug. 10-12, 2007.

Liriano has logged three double-digit strikeout efforts over his past five starts, a trend he'll look to extend today off a tough-luck no-decision.

Liriano fanned a season-high 12 batters over six innings of one-run ball to beat the New York Mets on May 24 and snap a three-start losing streak. He then limited the hosting San Diego Padres to three hits and one walk over six scoreless innings on Friday, striking out another 11 batters and exiting with a lead his bullpen could not hold.

The left-hander has allowed three or fewer runs in eight of his 10 starts this year, but is just 2-4 with a 3.47 earned run average. He is 2-1 lifetime versus the Giants with a 4.76 ERA in three starts.

Getting the start today for the Giants will be 39-year-old Tim Hudson, who is 3-4 on the year with a 4.62 ERA.

Hudson beat his former Atlanta Braves team on Friday at home, logging seven innings of one-run ball. He also scattered five hits and did not walk a batter while striking out four in his first outing since yielding eight runs over 3 2/3 frames in a loss at Colorado.

"He pitched well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Hudson. "He really gave us a nice game."

Hudson has won two of his last three starts and is 6-8 lifetime versus the Pirates with a 3.23 ERA over 15 meetings.

The Pirates won for the 10th time in 12 games with last night's 7-4 victory, paced by Andrew McCutchen's four-hit game. The former NL MVP finished a homer shy of the cycle and notched a pair of RBI while scoring twice.

Jordy Mercer hit a solo homer and Pedro Alvarez knocked in a pair of runs. Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett won his sixth straight start after allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two.

Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer for the Giants, who have lost four straight on the heels of winning five in a row. Buster Posey drove in two runs.

Chris Heston gave up five runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking three over 3 2/3 innings.

Having been cooled off this week, San Francisco now trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by two games for first place in the NL West.