PITTSBURGH (AP) — Francisco Liriano scattered four hits over seven innings, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Oakland Athletics 5-0 on Wednesday night.
Liriano (9-3) struck out six and walked one. He trimmed his ERA to 2.00 as the Pirates snapped a four-game losing streak. Pedro Alvarez went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jose Tabata also had two hits each as the Pirates beat Oakland for the first time ever.
Pittsburgh came in 0-11 against the A's since interleague play began in 1997 but broke loose against Tommy Milone (8-8). The Pirates worked quickly, following a nearly three-hour rain delay, and touched Milone for three runs in the third inning. The streaking Liriano carried them the rest of the way.
The veteran left-hander began the season on the disabled list while recovering from a broken right (non-throwing) arm and didn't make his debut until May 11. In less than a month he has resurrected his career and surpassed All-Star teammate Jeff Locke for the team lead in victories with his fourth straight win.
Liriano tossed Pittsburgh's only complete game of the season in a 6-2 victory over the Cubs last Friday then backed it up with seven sharp innings against the AL West-leading A's. Mixing speeds artfully, the 29-year-old Liriano allowed only two runners to reach third base.
This marked the 24th time in 25 games a Pittsburgh starter has allowed three earned runs or fewer. The 13th shutout of the season dropped the Pirates' team ERA to 3.09, easily the best in baseball.
All that stellar pitching, however, hadn't led to wins of late. Pittsburgh began the night just 2-6 in July and managed all of six runs during a four-game slide that included a pair of 2-1 losses to Oakland to open the series.
The Pirates busted out in the finale against Milone, who was coming off a season-high 8 1-3 innings of work in a win over Kansas City last week. He didn't make it out of the third inning as Pittsburgh's offense showed signs of life.
Marte doubled leading off the third, and Tabata followed with an RBI double. McCutchen drove Tabata home with a single, and Alvarez followed two batters later with a single to center that scored McCutchen.
That was enough for Milone, who needed 80 pitches to get through 2 2-3 innings. He was replaced by Pat Neshek, who made his first appearance since June 29.
The rust showed.
The Pirates began the night hitting an NL-worst .226 with runners in scoring position but went 5 for 9 on Wednesday after Russell Martin and Alvarez hit consecutive RBI singles in the fourth.
NOTES: Former Oakland first-round draft pick Sonny Gray made his major league debut in the fifth inning. The right-handed pitcher, called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday, tossed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. ... The Pirates begin a three-game series on Friday at home against the New York Mets. Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.38 ERA) starts for the Pirates against Jeremy Hefner (4-6, 3.39). ... Oakland ends the first half of the season at home against the Boston Red Sox. Jarrod Parker (6-6, 4.04) starts for the A's.