DETROIT — After a terrific start to the season, Francisco Liriano finally faltered against one of baseball’s top lineups.
It took a few innings, but the Detroit Tigers eventually broke through against Liriano, scoring three runs in the fifth en route to a 6-5 victory over thePittsburgh Pirates on Monday. The Pirates rallied late in the game but fell a run short against the Detroit bullpen.
“That’s a great offense, and I’ve pitched against them a lot of times, so they know what I’ve got and I know what they can do,” Liriano said. “I know that I’ve got to hit my spots and make good pitches if I don’t want to get beaten up.”
Justin Verlander struck out 13 in seven innings, and Jhonny Peralta had four hits for the Tigers.
Liriano (3-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings.
Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker tripled in the first and scored on a sacrifice fly byAndrew McCutchen. Liriano was cruising along until Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Peralta opened the Detroit fourth with consecutive singles to tie it at 1.
Liriano allowed no more than a run in each of his first three starts — the Pirates had to wait for him to return after he broke his right (non-throwing) arm in a freak accident on Christmas Day.
Martinez came to the plate with two on and two out in the fifth. His double down the line bounced weirdly off the short fence in foul territory, and both runners came in to score for a 3-1 lead. Martinez then scored on Peralta’s double.
Verlander (6-4) hadn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his previous three starts, struggling at times with his location. But he was sharp for the most part against Pittsburgh, allowing three runs and seven hits with two walks.
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