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Pirates set sail for rare sweep of Nationals

(SportsNetwork.com) - Francisco Liriano will try to snap one losing streak, but keep a winning string intact Sunday when the Pittsburgh Pirates conclude a four-game series against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park.

The Pirates are 4-0-1 in their last five series at home and go for their first four-game sweep of the Nationals since June 23-26, 1988 at Montreal. Pittsburgh hasn't swept a four-game set at home versus the Nationals/Expos since June 29-July 1 (DH) in 1973. The last time the Buccos swept any four- game set was in 2006 versus Milwaukee.

Liriano suffered a 9-2 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday in the Steel City when he allowed nine hits and six runs in five innings. His last win was Sept. 10, 2013 at Texas. Liriano has gone 13 starts since that last victory.

On the positive side, Liriano is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three career starts against teams from the NL East. The Pirates have been victories in five of his last six starts against the division.

Doug Fister counters for the Nationals. The righty secured his first win of 2014 in his most recent start Tuesday against Cincinnati. He's 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in two career starts versus the Pirates.

Josh Harrison's RBI single to center in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, as the Pirates rallied to take a 3-2 win last night. It was Pittsburgh's fourth straight win.

The Pirates trailed 2-1 through six but pushed a pair of runs across in the home half of the seventh against Stephen Strasburg (3-4) and got three perfect innings of relief to back Gerrit Cole, who allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of work.

"I just anticipated it being tight," Cole said.

Russell Martin singled to start the decisive frame and Sterling Marte doubled two batters later to put runners on second and third for pinch-hitter Jose Tabata, who tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center. Travis Snider was walked intentionally, but Harrison made Washington pay for the decision by delivering the eventual game-winner.

Jared Hughes (3-1) earned the win after tossing the seventh, Jeanmar Gomez needed just five pitches to get through the eighth and Mark Melancon nailed down his ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Strasburg struck out seven in seven innings but surrendered all three runs on seven hits.

"We're in one of those stretches offensively where it's not going right," Nationals manager Matt Williams of his team that has lost four in a row.

The Nats lost four of seven to the Pirates last season.

05/25 08:49:45 ET

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