Photo: Getty Images
(SportsNetwork.com) - A 16-game winner a season ago, Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano has been limited to one victory and a trip to the disabled list in 2014.
Liriano takes aim at his second win against the only team he has bested on the season as the Pirates wrap a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 30-year-old Liriano set a career high for victories last season, his first with Pittsburgh, and pitched to a 3.02 earned run average over 26 starts, but is just 1-7 this year with a 4.43 ERA in 16 outings.
A strained left oblique kept him on the shelf for about a month and Liriano made his second start on Friday since returning from the disabled list. It was a solid effort despite a no-decision, with the lefty being charged with one unearned run over five innings with eight strikeouts.
Liriano, though, is 0-2 in four games since beating the Dodgers on May 30. He logged 5 2/3 scoreless innings in that victory, again striking out eight to win his second decision in as many career starts versus them.
Like the Pirates with Liriano, the Dodgers are looking for Dan Haren to get on track down the stretch. The righty is 8-7 with a 4.30 ERA on the year, but has not logged six innings of work in three straight starts -- all losses -- and in five of his past six.
In July, Haren has given up 15 runs and four homers in three starts, spanning 14 innings, and the 33-year-old lasted only 4 2/3 innings in a 3-2 setback to St. Louis on Friday. He was charged with three runs, the back-breaker a two- run homer to Matt Holliday in the fifth inning.
"Dan (Haren) really battled and did a great job, just couldn't get Matt Holliday out," Los Angeles catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Haren is 3-2 with a 4.92 ERA in nine career starts against Pittsburgh, including a no-decision on May 29. He allowed three runs over six frames, taken deep by both Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin.
He may not have to face Alvarez tonight after the Pittsburgh slugger left Tuesday's 12-7 Pirates win early due to left knee discomfort.
Gregory Polanco and Neil Walker both homered and drove in three runs, while Martin and Ike Davis plated a pair of runs each as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in five games. It sits 2 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.
Vance Worley earned the win after giving up four runs -- one earned -- on seven hits with five strikeouts over six innings.
"We just kept scoring and playing. I think Worley pitched through some challenges," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Adrian Gonzalez finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, and Ellis supplied a two-run single for Los Angeles, which had its two-game winning streak come to an end as it sits a game back of San Francisco for first place in the NL West.
Paul Maholm was tagged with the loss after giving up two runs on two hits in relief of Josh Beckett, who gave up four runs on six hits across 3 2/3 frames in his return from the disabled list.
"It was a battle," Beckett said. "I put guys in bad situations. Our bullpen doesn't deserve that. This loss pretty much falls on me."
The Pirates took three of four from the Dodgers in L.A. from May 29-June 1.