Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

For Liriano, All Goes to Plan

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

For Liriano, All Goes to Plan

Article excerpt

When it's breaking like it did Tuesday, Francisco Liriano's slider can devastate.

Add in the changeup and fastball, and he can render a team defenseless.

Liriano delivered Tuesday night on the biggest stage the Pirates have stood on in 20 years, the lights of the city draped behind his shoulders and more than 40,000 wedged into PNC Park.

"It was amazing. Not just for me, but the whole city of Pittsburgh. They wanted it so bad. It was a great game and a great feeling," Liriano said.

His slider twice made mince meat of first baseman Joey Votto, who struck out in the fourth and sixth, the second time chasing three pitches in a row.

By the game's end, Liriano secured the first postseason win of his career by stifling the Reds and the Pirates were headed for the National League Divisional Series against St. Louis.

"Frankie was tremendous tonight," said pitching coach Ray Searage. "Then the changeup came into play later. He just had them stymied. Once he got through the first innings, he was able to spot, his fastball had some nice little feel on it."

Liriano went seven innings and gave up four hits and one earned run. He walked one and struck out five. Of his 90 pitches, 64 were strikes, and he had 13 groundouts.

"Everything was down like I wanted today, down in the zone," he said.

With the exception of Ryan Ludwick, who hit a single and double, Liriano neutralized the heart of the Reds order: Shin-Soo Choo was 1 for 3, Votto 0 for 4, Brandon Phillips 0 for 4 and Jay Bruce 1 for 4.

"When you can neutralize Choo, Votto and Bruce, you're going to have a chance to win," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "When you can set down those guys and keep them off balance, it obviously plays well for you."

Liriano retired nine consecutive batters to open the game and threw just 28 pitches by the end of the third inning, 23 for strikes. …

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