PITTSBURGH (AP) — Francisco Liriano showed improvement Saturday night but not enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander to beat a team he has dominated in recent years.
Carlos Martinez pitched into the ninth inning for his third consecutive win, Matt Holliday had a three-run homer among his three hits and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pirates 5-1.
The Cardinals won for the sixth time in seven games. Pittsburgh lost its fourth in a row
Liriano (4-6) was pitching on extra rest, starting for the first time since June 3, but still fell to 1-5 in his last six outings. The left-hander gave up four runs — three unearned — and four hits in six innings with eight strikeouts and three walks.
Liriano also lost to the Cardinals for just the third time in 10 career decisions.
“I executed pitches and tried to make them miss,” Liriano said. “I tried to stay calm. I tried not to do too much. I tried to execute my pitches and their guy was able to make some good pitches.”
Martinez (7-5) gave up one run and six hits in 8 1/3 innings before being lifted when the Pirates put runners on first and second with one out.
“I always want to go out there and do my work for all nine innings,” Martinez said. “That’s why I do all the extra work (between) starts, so I can stay strong and stay out there as long as possible.”
Trevor Rosenthal got two outs for his 12th save in 14 opportunities. He blew a save in the ninth inning Friday night in a game the Cardinals eventually won 9-3 in 12 innings.
“Crazy things happen to us in this park, so when they get it within that kind of distance, and Trevor can come in and shut the door, he’s going to,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
The Pirates gave Liriano extra time between starts to work out some mechanical issues with pitching coach Ray Searage. Manager Clint Hurdle liked what he saw.
“He was good in a lot of different places,” Hurdle said. “He repeated the delivery really well. Stayed on line throughout the delivery really well. Had a good mix of pitches throughout the game.”
Martinez threw 122 pitches in an attempt to pitch his first career complete game in his 49th start. He struck out five and walked three.
Before starting his winning streak, Martinez lost five straight starts.
Holliday’s 10th home run capped a four-run fifth inning against Liriano.
Brandon Moss led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Jedd Gyorko struck out but reached first base on Chris Stewart’s passed ball. Two outs later, Aledmys Diaz walked and Holliday followed with a drive to right-center field.
Moss had his fifth straight multihit game.
Starling Marte had three hits and is 14 for 34 (.412) against the Cardinals this season.
Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single in the seventh extended the Cardinals’ lead to 5-0. The Pirates got their run in the bottom half when Gregory Polanco doubled and scored on Josh Harrison’s sacrifice fly.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli was put on the 15-day disabled list after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand. He is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. Stewart is likely to get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate, though he left the game in the seventh inning with left ankle discomfort. … RHP Gerrit Cole (strained right triceps) underwent an MRI exam on Saturday after leaving Friday night in the third inning. The Pirates expect to receive the results Sunday.
Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake (4-4, 4.22 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. He is 7-1 in his last 16 starts at Pittsburgh, dating to Sept. 11, 2012.
Pirates: LHP Jon Niese (6-2, 3.95) is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last five starts. He pitched seven shutout innings in his previous outing Tuesday to beat the New York Mets.