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Liriano hopes to continue PNC Park dominance versus Cards
(SportsNetwork.com) - Francisco Liriano tries to follow up a terrific Opening Day performance on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Pirates resume their three- game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.
The National League's Comeback Player of the Year picked up right where he left off last season, as he scattered four hits over six scoreless innings on Monday, but did not get a decision in his team's extra-inning win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
His 10 strikeouts also tied the Bucs' Opening Day strikeout set in 1983 by John Candelaria and last year by A.J. Burnett.
"It's a good feeling," Liriano said of that accomplishment, "but the most important thing is it came in a game we won. Everything was working (for me), with good location, mixing pitches.
"I got a couple of swings and misses. I didn't try to do too much, just hit my spots and go from there."
Liriano, who has lost just once 15 starts at PNC with an ERA of 1.36 there, was virtually unhittable against the Cards last season, going 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA.
St. Louis, meanwhile, will counter with Joe Kelly, who earned the fifth starter's job, despite a spring that saw him pitch to a 6.28 ERA.
Kelly lost the job last year to Shelby Miller and opened the 2013 season in the Cardinals bullpen before eventually joining the rotation. He went 10-5 last season and pitched to a 2.69 ERA in 37 games, 15 of which were starts.
The 25-year-old right-hander allowed three or fewer runs in 14 of his 16 starts last season.
Pittsburgh got the best of its National League Central rivals in Friday's opener, as Pedro Alvarez stroked two solo home runs and finished with three RBI to help the Pirates to a 12-2 rout.
It was the first time the teams played since Adam Wainwright outdueled Gerrit Cole, 6-1, in Game 5 of the 2013 NLDS.
Cole (1-0), who toed the rubber for Pittsburgh on Friday, worked seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits with three strikeouts to earn the win.
Matt Carpenter accounted for the Cards' only runs in the setback, crushing a two-run homer to right field in the fifth inning.
Shelby Miller (0-1) was on the bump for St. Louis, surrendering five runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. St. Louis has lost two of its last three games.
"I thought Shelby's stuff was pretty good just not sharp," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "They (Pirates) didn't miss a lot of those (pitches) that got too much of the plate."
The Pirates won 10 of 19 versus the Cardinals last season, winning seven of the 10 meetings in Pittsburgh.
04/05 10:04:47 ET