LOS ANGELES – Francisco Liriano finally got that long-awaited first victory of the season.
Liriano pitched in and out of trouble in his duel with Josh Beckett, and Ike Davis homered to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1, Friday night.
Liriano (1-5) scattered five hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. After entering with a 5.06 ERA, he struck out eight and walked two in his 12th start of the year.
“It was a great feeling to get that first win out of the way,” said Liriano, a 16-game winner for Pittsburgh last season. “It was a long time, and I felt like I wasn’t doing my job. I just want to try to go deeper into the game my next time out.”
Beckett (3-2) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, five days after pitching the first no-hitter in the majors this season during a 6-0 win at Philadelphia.
Yasiel Puig reached base for the 31st straight game, getting an infield single in the fourth and continuing to second on Liriano’s throwing error. He came up with the bases loaded in the fifth and popped up on a changeup for the third out, making him 0-for-5 in those situations.
“Francisco pitched out of the stretch most of the night, and the leadoff hitter reached base in five of those six innings,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pointed out. “To get Puig, that’s just a classic matchup on a Friday night in front of 47,000 – that’s good stuff. There were so many important pitches in that sequence, but he stayed focused and was aggressive. He had eight strikeouts, and a lot of them were with guys on second.”
Despite Liriano’s record, he’s been able to keep his team in games more often than not. The Pirates have won all six of his no-decisions.
“That’s what we continue to tell Frank,” Hurdle said. “Fortunately, he’s been around. He’s had to battle through so many things, and this is just the next thing he’s going to get challenged by at the major league level. He’s kept his composure and his confidence, so we’ll see where he can take it. I just believe it’s going to get better and better for him.”
Beckett was removed for a pinch-hitter after 88 pitches – the 34-year-old righty threw a career-high 128 in the first no-hitter by a Dodgers pitcher since 1996.
“Physically, I felt fine. I took care of myself in between starts, and I was ready to go out there,” Beckett said. “I didn’t feel any different between this start and my last one. I mean, if you look at those 128 pitches in nine innings, it’s only 13, 14 pitches per inning.”
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker robbed Matt Kemp of an RBI single in the sixth with a diving stop toward the middle and threw him out, after Hanley Ramirez led off with a double. Liriano faced one more batter, striking out Scott Van Slyke with his 100th pitch. Justin Wilson then fanned Andre Ethier.
Mark Melancon gave up an RBI single to Ramirez in the eighth, but retired pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez on a grounder with the potential tying run at second.
Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Beckett retired the side in order only once. He hit Starling Marte with a 2-2 pitch to open the third and Clint Barmes followed with a walk. Marte was picked off second, but the Pirates overcame that miscue with singles by Josh Harrison and Walker, whose hit to right field drove in Barmes with the game’s first run.
Davis led off the fourth with a drive to center that traveled an estimated 453 feet. It was his fourth home run of the season, including two grand slams against Cincinnati.
“Beckett was on the corners all night and his stuff was good, but that fastball caught a little more of the plate and I was able to get the good part of the bat on it,” Davis said. “We really didn’t do too much off him, but we scored just enough runs. It’s hard to beat the Dodgers only scoring two runs, but our pitchers were amazing tonight.”
Drew Butera, who caught Beckett’s no-hitter, also was behind the plate for Liriano’s no-no with Minnesota on May 3, 2011, against the White Sox in Chicago. He threw out Russell Martin and Harrison on stolen base attempts for the third out in the second and fifth innings, respectively.