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Liriano aims to rebound in Texas
(Sports Network) - Francisco Liriano has been able to bounce back from his two most recent losses with brilliant outings.
Martin Perez hasn't need a rebound effort in well over a month.
The two hurlers square off on Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers resume a three-game set in Arlington.
Liriano has already set a new career high for victories in a season by going 15-7 with a 2.98 earned run average in 22 starts with the Pirates this season. That comes after he was just 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 games a year ago with Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox.
The lefty is coming off a loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday, when he allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks in just three innings of work.
"I just started missing my spots in the second (inning)," Liriano told Pittsburgh's official website. "I was overthrowing sometimes, too, trying to get more sink on the ball. If your location is good, there's a pretty good chance you'll get better results."
Liriano is 6-3 over his last nine outings, giving up one run or fewer in each of the six victories while yielding a total of 21 runs and 28 hits over 9 1/3 frames of the three setbacks.
But the 29-year-old has been able to bounce back strong. He has hurled a one- run complete game and thrown eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball, respectively, following the past two losses.
Liriano is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in eight previous meetings, including six starts, versus the Rangers, who send the red-hot Perez to the mound.
The rookie left-hander is 9-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 15 starts this season, winning all five of his starts in August while posting a 3.06 ERA. On Tuesday in Oakland, Perez picked right up where he left off by holding the A's to a run over seven innings of a 5-1 win. He worked around eight hits and struck out five without a walk.
"Every time he goes out there, it's another experience," said Texas manager Ron Washington about Perez. "I just think we need to let him continue to grow and whatever expectations come up on him, let him put it on himself."
The 22-year-old's nine wins matched a club rookie record for the most victories by a left-hander and he is the first Rangers pitcher to win six straight starts since Kenny Rogers' eight-game run from April 27-June 5, 2005.
Perez has never faced the Pirates and is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three career interleague starts.
Tuesday could mark a second straight pitcher's duel between these teams after Pittsburgh won Monday's opener 1-0 behind a brilliant outing by Gerrit Cole.
Cole helped snap the Pirates' four-game slide by giving up just three hits -- all singles -- and two walks overs even innings. He also struck out nine.
"He was fantastic tonight. ... He had swing-and-miss stuff. He also got them early, making quality pitches in quality locations," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Pittsburgh's lone run came on Pedro Alvarez's two-out double in the seventh inning off Texas starter Yu Darvish, who took the tough-luck setback despite seven innings of four-hit ball.
The Pirates pulled within one game of the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central and moved a game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds for the first NL wild card spot.
Pittsburgh also finally captured its 82nd win of the season, giving the club its first winning season since 1992.
"We don't really understand what the fans have been through, but we know it definitely puts a smile on their face when they see that No. 82 up there," Cole said. "I think we're extremely happy to be able to make them feel like we've got a winning team out there, but we have a few weeks ahead and those are going to be some big games."
The Rangers continued to slide with their sixth loss in eight games, putting them two back of Oakland for first place in the AL West. They do still own a 2 1/2-game edge for the first wild card spot in the league, but are hitting just .243 and averaging 2.9 runs per game over their last 10.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski doesn't think his club is struggling, however.
"We're still putting together at-bats," he said. "We're still doing the same stuff, trying to put pressure on the other team. When you look up and get three or four hits, it looks like you're not trying or putting in the work, but these guys are putting in the work. Everyone is doing the same stuff. Sometimes it just doesn't work out."
The Rangers are hosting the Pirates for the first time since sweeping a three- game set in June of the 2010 season.
09/10 10:44:20 ET