Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nationals 5, Pirates 1 Liriano's Final Bb Fuels Run of Runs Was Locked in a Pitcher's Duel with Strasburg until Washington Eventually Pulled out Victory

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nationals 5, Pirates 1 Liriano's Final Bb Fuels Run of Runs Was Locked in a Pitcher's Duel with Strasburg until Washington Eventually Pulled out Victory

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Through almost his entire outing Friday night, Francisco Liriano suppressed the base-on-balls issue he has struggled with all season. Of his first 21 batters faced, he walked one, and erased him in a forceout. Then he walked three of his final five batters. The final free pass opened the gates in a four-run inning that turned a 1-1 pitcher's duel into a 5-1 Washington Nationals victory at Nationals Park.

Though Liriano's line - three runs and five hits in six-plus innings - looks good, the four walks, and their timing, are telling. Liriano walked at least three batters for the ninth time in 10 starts and continues to lead Major League Baseball in the category. When Liriano walked two in a row in the sixth before stranding them, manager Clint Hurdle sent him back out for the seventh.

"We've been waiting for an opportunity to push him back out there for the seventh inning in a tie ballgame and we got it," Hurdle said. "I thought the body of work was good, I thought he took some more steps forward. I thought he made pitches."

Danny Espinosa walked to start the bottom of the seventh. Clint Robinson followed with a single, at which point Hurdle replaced Liriano with Neftali Feliz. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg bunted back to Feliz, who looked at Espinosa creeping down the third-base line to freeze him.

"When you see where the runner was, he was halfway down the line," Hurdle said. "He was told to check the runner. He kind of checked him, he kind of stopped him. However, an arm fake or a throw to third base, we've got the guy hung out."

Feliz turned and threw to David Freese at first, but Freese had initially broken toward the ball and misstepped around the bag. Strasburg was safe, and when Espinosa broke for the plate, Freese's throw was late.

"I tried to do what I was taught to do, and that is get the bunt and guarantee the first out," Feliz said, with interpreter Mike Gonzalez translating. …

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