Liriano, Martin lead Pirates' win over Cubs

Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


CHICAGO - Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin delivered both at the plate and behind it on Friday afternoon.
Martin doubled in one run and scored another as Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
He also helped keep winning pitcher Francisco Liriano (4-2) on track on a day when the Pirates left-hander walked five batters and his fastball was sometimes problematic.
"He wasn't as consistent as he normally is with his fastball," Martin said. "Luckily he had his slider going for him and his changeup and the good thing about him is that he's got three-plus pitches ... and he throws every pitch with conviction."
Martin, who went 2-for-3 and reached base three times, doubled home shortstop Jordy Mercer with two out against Cubs starter Travis Wood to break a scoreless tie.
Mercer, who also had two hits on the day, reached on a one-out double and advanced to third on A.J. McCutcheon's fly ball to right.
"I was looking for something out over the plate," Martin said. "The thing with Travis he's so good at mixing his speeds, throwing that cutter and changing eye level... (but) he made some pitches that I found in the middle of the plate and I'm able to hit those."
Liriano allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings, struck out eight and broke a personal two-game losing streak in the opener of the three-game series.
"A few walks complicated some things," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "But as far as them putting the bat on the ball, it never came into play. He had six three-[ball] counts, which is a relatively high number but then the strikeout played when we needed it.
"It was a very big outing for him, a good outing."
Wood (5-4) pitched six full innings and gave up one earned run on four hits. He walked two and struck out six.
It was an overall solid effort for Wood, but the sixth-inning pitch for Martin's double is one he'd like back.
"It wasn't very well-executed," Wood said. "It wasn't anywhere we wanted. We wanted it backdoor on the outside and I just yanked it across. Martin's a good hitter and he did what he had to do."
Pittsburgh added a ninth-inning insurance run as Cubs reliever Carlos Villanueva walked Martin and gave up a single to Pedro Alvarez with none out. Martin, who advanced to third on the hit, came home on Travis Snider's fielder's choice grounder to short.
Reliever Jason Grilli -- the Pirates' third and final pitcher -- gave up back-to-back singles with two out in the ninth, but struck out Darwin Barney to end the game and earn his 23rd save.
"That's been a constant all year long for them; their bullpen's been dominant in shutting everything down from basically the sixth inning on," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "They don't give up a whole lot when their starters come out of the game."
Wood gave up two singles and walked Snider to load the bases in the second. But he worked out of the inning unscathed by striking out Liriano for the final out.
The Cubs had Welington Castillo in scoring position with two out in the second after Liriano issued back-to-back walks, but Ryan Sweeney's fly to center ended the threat.
Anthony Rizzo reached second on a fourth-inning walk and an Alfonso Soriano flyball to center. But he got no further as Liriano struck out Castillo and got Starlin Castro to line out to second baseman Neil Walker.
Liriano gave up his first hit in the fifth when Wood lined a single to left, and Cody Ransom then walked with two out. The runners advanced on a wild pitch and were stranded when Rizzo struck out looking.
The Pirates send right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-6, 3.22 ERA) against Cubs righty Jeff Samardzija (3-6, 2.96 ERA) in Saturday's middle game.
NOTES: Sveum said his team got the best non-pitcher in Thursday's Major League Draft with the selection of third baseman Kris Bryant out of the University of San Diego. "We got the best hitter in the draft, an athlete (who can) run, throw and obviously we know about his power," Sveum said. ... Friday's game was the first in a seven-game N.L. Central home stand that includes four games next week with Cincinnati. ... Barney was in the leadoff spot for only the second time this season in place of David DeJesus, who had the day off. ... The June 7 meeting is the second-latest calendar day the Pirates have been to Wrigley Field since 2000. Last year, the teams didn't meet in Chicago until July 30. ... Third baseman Pedro Alvarez has five home runs in 20 days games so far. In 2012 he had 18 daytime homers, the most by a Pirate player since Willie Stargell (19) in 1971. ... Right-hander Bryan Morris had a no-hitter of sorts under way with 9.0 hitless innings through his last five appearances dating back to May 29.