Alvarez, Liriano help Pirates to 8th straight win

Hand solid, but Brewers lose fifth straight
Alvarez, Liriano help Pirates to 8th straight win

PNC Park naturally favors left-handed pitchers with its spacious gap in right-center that turns many fly balls hit by right-handed pitchers into outs.

So it figures that left-hander Francisco Liriano has revived his career since signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason. He pitched another gem at PNC Park on Saturday night, working six strong innings in a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Pirates won their eighth consecutive game and improved their best-in-baseball record to 50-30. It is Pittsburgh’s longest winning streak since the Pirates won 10 straight in 2004.

Liriano (7-3) allowed only one run while scattering seven hits, with one walk and six strikeouts. He is 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA in five home starts since beginning the season on the disabled list with a broken right arm.

Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli each pitched one scoreless inning, with Grilli recording his 27th save in 28 opportunities.

Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones both hit solo home runs for the Pirates. Alvarez extended his hitting streak to 12 games, setting a career high.

The Brewers (32-47) lost their fifth straight game, though Donovan Hand (0-1) turned in a solid effort in his second major-league start, allowing the two home runs among five hits in five innings, with no walks and two strikeouts.

Carlos Gomez had two hits for the Brewers and scored their lone run, in the sixth inning, when he hit a one-out single and scored on Yuniesky Betancourt’s two-out single.

The Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez continued his hot hitting with a solo home run in the bottom of the second off Hand to break a scoreless tie. It was Alvarez’s team-high 20th homer, and he established a career high by hitting in his 12th straight game.

Jones homered to the shrubbery in center field to lead off the fourth and increase Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-0. It was his seventh homer of the season.

Milwaukee missed a chance to score in the top of the fourth when Carlos Gomez led off with a triple. However, with one out and in the infield drawn in, second baseman Neil Walker fielded Jonathan Lucroy’s grounder and threw Gomez out at home.

NOTES: Milwaukee 2B Rickie Weeks’ career-high 13-game hitting streak ended as he went 0-for-3 with a walk. … The Pirates have won four straight games and eight of 10 against Milwaukee after losing nine in a row. … Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun (bruised left thumb) is scheduled to a swing a bat Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list retroactive to June 10. … Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez (strained left forearm) will not make a scheduled rehab start on Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis after experiencing discomfort in his forearm on Friday during a bullpen session. … Pirates RHP Sean Burnett (strained right calf) is scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Tuesday and that could be the last step before he is activated from the disabled list. … Brewers RF Norichika Aoki did not start for the first time since May 30 as manager Ron Roenicke decided to rest him. … The three-game series concludes Sunday with Milwaukee RHP Kyle Lohse (3-6, 3.69) facing Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.81).