Francisco Liriano. Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli combined on a five-hit shutout on Friday afternoon, and the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the Cubs 2-0 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
The shutout was the tenth of the season for the Pirates’ pitching staff, a number that leads the Major Leagues.
Liriano (4-2; 1.75 ERA) worked seven innings to earn the victory, allowed just two hits and struck out eight batters, while surrendering five walks. Melancon struck out two of the four hitters he faced in the eighth inning for his 19th “hold” of the season. Grilli allowed two hits in the ninth inning, but otherwise struck out the side, and earned his 23rd save in 23 opportunities.
The Pirates’ Russell Martin doubled home Jordy Mercer with the first Pittsburgh run in the sixth inning, and a Travis Snider ground ball plated Martin with their own score in the top of the ninth frame. The Bucs outhit the Cubs 7-to-5, with Martin and Mercer both recording a pair of hits. With the loss, Chicago slipped to 24-34.
In the second game of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon, the Pirates (36-25) will send A.J. Burnett (3-6; 3.22 ERA) to the mound against the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzjia (3-6; 2.96 ERA).