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Pirates Roll Over the Cardinals, Brewers Blank the Cubs

In another display of their strong pitching, the Pittsburgh Pirates (62-42) rolled over division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals (62-41), 9-2 on Monday night.

Francisco Liriano

Francisco Liriano

Lefty veteran Francisco Liriano (11-4), in his seven innings on the mound, gave up one run and retired the first 10 batters that he faced. He struck out eight and walked two as he grabbed his fifth consecutive win. He has also won his last 11 of 15 starts and his ERA has dropped to 2.16.

Andrew McCuthchen said of Liriano via The Associated Press, “It’s been a good run for him being able to watch, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. I don’t get a lot of action when he’s on the mound. It makes it a lot easier for the defense.”

The Pirates offense also hit the ground running as it snagged four runs in the first inning against Cardinals starter righty Jake Westbrook (7-5). He immediately got off to a rough start, walking the first batter and hitting the second one. For the third batter, McCutchen hit a single.

You could say the wheels then fell off as Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer. This represented No. 27 for the season and he’s now the NL home run leader.

For these two teams battling it out for the NL Central race, Monday’s game was just the first of five-game series (a doubleheader on Tuesday). With the win, the Pirates sit .5 behind the Cardinals, who don’t play well at PNC Park. They had been shut out in their last three of four games before Monday’s additional loss.

Factor in the recent game and the Cardinals have 28 hits in their last five games in Pittsburgh.

Not helping matters is arriving at the field on a three-game losing streak. Over the weekend, the Cardinals got swept by the Atlanta Braves (61-45) in a three-game series. The heat is on for this series as the Pirates have their eye on a first playoff berth in 21 years. Playing at home in front of an electric crowd should be helpful.

On Tuesday, the battle continues when righty A.J. Burnett (4-7) will take the mound against the Cardinals righty Lance Lynn (12-5) in the first game. The Pirates will announce their starter for Game 2 on Tuesday morning while the Cardinals’ lefty Tyler Lyons (2-3) gets the starting nod for the late game.

For the Pirates, they’re 6/1 to win the NL pennant while the Cardinals sit at 11/4. This should be an interesting last two months of the regular season.

In the short-term, the Pirates get another win (-155, 8 o/u) for the first game.

Brewers Blank the Cubs, 5-0

In a battle of the division’s bottom two teams, the Milwaukee Brewers (44-61) defeated the Chicago Cubs (48-56), 5-0, on Monday. It took until the ninth inning for the Brewers to get on the board, but once they did, they did it big with five runs.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija

For the Cubs, their three-game win streak ended but they at least got solid pitching from righty Jeff Samardzija (6-9). He had seven scoreless innings with three hits (the first one came in the fifth), two walks and seven strikeouts.

Last week the Cubs traded starting pitcher Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. Samardzija has also recently been the subject of trade rumors and said of the possibility via MLB.com after Monday’s game, “It wouldn’t be a good move. I haven’t thought about it at all, to tell you the truth.”

Righty Kyle Lohse (7-7) held his own for the Brewers as he pitched six scoreless innings. This included allowing five hits, three walks and six strikeouts.

These foes will continue their four-game series on Tuesday in their own doubleheader.

Game 1 has Cubs righty reliever Carlos Villanueva (2-7) against the Brewers righty Yovani Gallardo (8-9).

The Cubs get back on the win track (-115).

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