Liriano takes the hill opposite Wood as the visiting Pirates try to avoid losing four straight for the first time in two months Friday against the Cubs.
Having struck out 39 and walked nine over 29 innings, Liriano (3-2, 2.17 ERA) has been superb since missing the first six weeks with a fractured forearm. He's allowed one or no runs in four of his five outings.
The left-hander was brilliant again Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati, yielding one run and four hits over six innings while striking out a season-high 11.
"Yeah, we'll go there," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB's official website when asked if that was Liriano's best start. "But wow, he was really good. He competes out there."
Liriano delivered a similar performance in a 1-0 win over Chicago (24-33) on May 22, striking out nine over seven innings of two-hit ball.
"He just kept us off balance, and we couldn't get anything going," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. "He looked really good."
Liriano now pitches at Wrigley Field for the first time as he tries to get the best of Wood (5-3, 2.75), who ranks among the NL leaders with a .194 opponents' batting average. The left-hander also has come through in a big way offensively, going 5 for 10 with two homers and seven RBIs over his last four starts.
In his most recent game, Wood allowed two runs over six innings and hit a grand slam during an 8-3 win over the White Sox last Thursday.
"Woody can flat-out hit," manager Dale Sveum said. "He hits any fastball."
Wood gave up one hit over six scoreless innings to beat the Pirates 3-2 in his season debut April 4. He's 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA over his last three starts against them, surrendering six hits and striking out 18 over 17 2-3 innings.
He's had his way with several Pittsburgh hitters, including Andrew McCutchen (1 for 13), Pedro Alvarez (1 for 9), Gaby Sanchez (1 for 8), Clint Barmes (2 for 15), Starling Marte (2 for 11) and Garrett Jones (0 for 5).
Marte is the only active Pirates player to take Wood deep, but he's mired in a 4-for-32 slump. Jones also has struggled of late, going 8 for his last 47.
The Pirates (35-25) enter this three-game set having dropped five of six by a 29-11 margin. They have batted .162 in that span after being held to one hit Wednesday in a 5-0 loss at Atlanta, which completed a three-game sweep.
"Adversity's going to knock on your door throughout the season," said Hurdle, whose team dropped a season-worst four straight April 4-7. "With everything that's gone on, we're going to walk out of here and we're 10 games over .500. We've just got to continue to keep playing."
"I want to be in that situation," said Rizzo, who had gone 3 for 16 without an RBI over the previous five games. "Even when you're feeling down at the plate, it takes one pitch, one at-bat, one swing. So that's what you've got to go by."
Rizzo is 1 for 22 in the season series with Pittsburgh as the Cubs have dropped four of six, most recently suffering a three-game sweep May 21-23.
McCutchen went 5 for 12 in that series and has recorded half of his 14 steals against Chicago this year. He's batting .427 with five homers, 24 runs and 16 RBIs over his last 25 games at Wrigley.
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|May 28, 2013||Jose Contreras||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|May 25, 2013||Jose Tabata||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique - out 3-4 weeks|
|May 19, 2013||Andrew McCutchen||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|May 15, 2013||John McDonald||15-Day DL||Lower back discomfort|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 27, 2013||Rafael Dolis||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|May 26, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right forearm strain|
|May 22, 2013||Shawn Camp||15-Day DL||Sprained right big toe|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Francisco Liriano wasn't quite sure where his pitches were going. The one thing he did control was his emotions.
Liriano pitched two-hit ball over seven innings and the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 2-0 Friday for their major league-leading 10th shutout, matching Pittsburgh's total for all of last season.
It is, as manager Clint Hurdle said, a "remarkable number." And it stands out even more because the Pirates don't have a complete game.
Liriano (4-2) walked five, his most since Sept. 1 last year, but struck out eight to help Pittsburgh stop a three-game losing streak.
"I didn't feel, location-wise, I was that good," he said. "I was missing my spots a lot, and I walked too many guys. You know, just keep fighting `til the end."
Liriano walked two in the second and two in the fourth. But rather than get rattled, he worked his way out of trouble both times and came away with the win after a two-start losing streak.
Mark Melancon pitched the eighth, and Jason Grilli finished the five-hitter for his major league-leading 23rd save in as many chances. After two-out singles by Ryan Sweeney and pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro , Grilli struck out Darwin Barney to preserve another shutout.
"We had 10 (shutouts) all last year and actually we pitched a lot better last year than we did the first year I was here," Hurdle said. "It just speaks to the job the pitchers are doing here, No. 1 throwing strikes, keeping the ball down. We've been able to get a little better at it every year, and this year, obviously, we've taken it to another level at this point in the season."
Russell Martin had two hits, including an RBI double off Travis Wood (5-4) in the sixth, as the Pirates won for the second time in seven games. Jordy Mercer doubled twice.
Pittsburgh continued to struggle at the plate after managing just one hit off Julio Teheran in a 5-0 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday. This time, the Pirates finished with seven hits.
Wood gave up one run and four hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts, but couldn't quite match Liriano on the mound.
"He kept us off balance, kept the ball down all day," Wood said. "He really worked us. Even though he had several walks, he was able to battle around that and pitch a good ballgame."
He had the Cubs' first hit, a one-out single in the fifth, after hitting his first career grand slam in a win over the Chicago White Sox last week.
"Travis has been the same all year," Barney said. "He's been consistent pounding the zone. He was a little bit more sporadic than he has been. But he still had good stuff. He keeps them off balance."
Outscored 29-11 and shut out three times in their previous six games, the Pirates went ahead in the sixth.
After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second, Wood retired 11 straight before Mercer's one-out double. Mercer advanced on Andrew McCutchen 's fly to right and scored on Martin's double.
"I just told myself I was going to be aggressive and not wait around," Martin said. "He's throwing lots of strikes, and I picked a side of the plate."
Travis Snider added an RBI grounder in the ninth against Carlos Villanueva after Martin's walk and Pedro Alvarez 's single.
NOTES: Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez is to throw a bullpen session on Monday before the team decides whether he will go on the DL, although manager Clint Hurdle did say there was no "acute structural damage to the ligament" in Rodriguez's throwing arm. Rodriguez got only one out in Wednesday's loss at Atlanta before leaving with tightness in his left forearm. ... Sweeney, the Cubs' CF, made a neat catch in the eighth when he raced to his right and dove to snag Starling Marte 's drive. ... Sveum said Rafael Dolis , on the 15-day DL with a mild strain in his right forearm, is "a lot better," and Shawn Camp (sprained right big toe) threw a bullpen session on Friday. Sveum also said no date has been set for Kyuji Fujikawa to have ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow. ... A.J. Burnett (3-6, 3.22 ERA) starts Saturday for the Pirates, with Jeff Samardzija (3-6, 2.96 ERA) going for the Cubs.