Francisco Liriano tries to follow up a dominating effort in his last start when the Pittsburgh Pirates continue their four-game series with the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Liriano won for the second straight time and for the fifth time in six starts on Monday in San Diego, as he struck out 13 and scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 14-5, while lowering his ERA to 2.53.
"I'm not big on labels. I just like to pencil his name in every fifth day," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said when asked if Liriano is his ace. "I'd never take it for granted and I hope nobody else does when you watch a man go out there and pitch like he does. I hope there's some appreciation. He continues to just be masterful."
Liriano beat the Giants earlier in the year in his only other appearance against them.
As good as Liriano has been of late, San Francisco's Tim Lincecum has been just as bad, as he has lost his last two starts and is just 1-4 in six starts since throwing his no-hitter. In his defense, though, the Giants have provided him with one run or less in all but one of those outings.
Lincecum's most recent setback came to Boston on Monday when he gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings to fall to 6-13 on the year to go along with a 4.53 ERA.
The former two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has faced the Pirates six times and is 1-3 with a 4/38 ERA against them.
Pittsburgh stayed hot on its seven-game road trip Friday, as Clint Barmes hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to help the Pirates to a 3-1 win.
Barmes' home run made a winner out of Charlie Morton (5-3), who gave up one run on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings for the Pirates, who have won four of their last five.
The win allowed Pittsburgh to stay a game ahead of St. Louis for first place in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves earlier on Friday.
San Francisco, meanwhile, has lost five of its last six games and sits dead last in the NL West.
Roger Kieschnick drove in the lone run of the game for the Giants, who saw starter Madison Bumgarner (11-8) drop his second straight decision after giving up three runs on seven hits in eight innings of work.
"They got a big clutch hit there and that was the game," said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. "Bumgarner pitched a great game and that's the way it goes sometimes."
Pittsburgh took two of three from the Giants earlier in the year.