Francisco Liriano had never hit a home run in his entire nine year career – that all changed on Saturday.
Liriano hit a three-run homer in the second inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates thwarted a late Dodgers comeback to win 6-5 at PNC Park.
Entering the game, Liriano had 159 career plate appearances and zero homers. His manager, Clint Hurdle, said he's seen him it out of the stadium in batting practice. I guess No. 160 is the lefty's lucky number.
Liriano sent a 94MPH fastball by Dodgers starter Mat Latos into the left field pavilion in the second inning, for the first home run of his Major League career.
"It was like Halley's Comet," Hurdle said smiling. "I always kid him, 'Can I see a home run in my lifetime?' As many as he has hit in batting practice, I've been waiting for this. The way it played out, it was a big home run."
Liriano on the other hand, saw it differently.
"I was just trying to put a good swing on it and I was lucky enough that it went out," he said.
National League MVP in 2013, Andrew McCutchen kept the Pirates in the game, ultimately putting them ahead for good for good when he scored in the bottom of the third inning.
McCutcheon went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as both teams were locked into a back-and-forth brawl for the second straight game.
Scott Van Slyke knocked in Adrian Gonzalez to start the game and give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead. McCutchen answered with an RBI single of his own in the bottom half to tie the game at 1-1.
Half an inning later, Gonzalez singled home Latos to put the Dodgers back up 2-1. Liriano's homer in the bottom half of the inning put the Pirates up 4-2.
Once again, the Dodgers would respond. Kiké Hernandez hit a two-run homer to dead center in the top of the third inning and LA tied the game at 4-4.
However, in the bottom half the Pirates would take the lead for good after Jung-Ho Kang scored McCutcheon on a fielder's choice and Bucs second baseman Neil Walker hit a solo homer off Latos four pitches later.
Van Slyke brought the Dodgers within in a run in the top of the ninth, but Pirates closer Mark Melancon shut the door for his league-leading 35th save, and 33rd straight without relinquishing the lead.
Latos (4-8) got the loss in just his second start for the Dodgers, the former Marlins right-hander allowed six runs on seven hits in just four innings.
Former Dodger, Joe Blanton, pitched three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win. Blanton, looking a lot slimmer than he did in his Dodger days, was excellent on Saturday after being acquired from the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline.
"One of the reasons we got him is because he can pitch through a lineup," Hurdle said. "He had a really clean outing and he got better and stronger as it went on."
Liriano became just the second Pirates pitcher to homer this season, joining A.J. Burnett who homered on July 11th.
Four replay challenges went in the Pirates favor on the day. Clint Hurdle successfully overturned three separate challenges for the Pirates, while Don Mattingly only challenged one call that was not overturned.
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