PIT@STL: Liriano tosses complete game, allows one run

ST. LOUIS -- Francisco Liriano's dominant performance Wednesday night didn't just wipe out the memory of that Coors Field aberration (10 runs allowed on Friday). The complete-game four-hitter also got him back into Cy Young Award talk. Coming against the Cardinals in a high-profile game with postseason implications, it did far more than merely neutralize the beating he took by the Rockies.

"Electric stuff. We would come back after every at-bat and check the video room, and this guy just never missed over the plate," St. Louis leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter said.

Added David Freese, "That's as good as you're going to see."

It may be tough for Liriano to get a word in edgewise in the Cy Young conversation with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw being so dominant.

The Bucs' southpaw has a better shot at a truly unique accomplishment: Becoming a two-time Comeback Player of the Year.

That award became a formal MLB presentation only in 2005, but prior to that had been issued by The Sporting News since 1965. In that time, six players have managed to win it twice -- and only two in both leagues, as Liriano could.

The bi-league winners were right-hander Rick Sutcliffe (with the Cubs in 1987 and with the Orioles in 1992) and outfielder Eric Davis (Reds 1996, Orioles 1998). Other double winners were Boog Powell (Orioles 1966, Indians 1975), Andres Galarraga (Rockies 1993, Braves 2000), Norm Cash (Tigers 1965 and 1971) and Chris Carpenter (Cardinals 2004 and 2009).

Liriano first earned comeback laurels in 2010, for going 14-10 with Minnesota after a 5-13 season in 2009. Coming off a 6-12, 5.34 ERA season split between the Twins and the White Sox, he is a leading 2013 comeback candidate at 13-5, 2.68.

He'd be a shoo-in were there a Stopper of the Year Award: In nine starts following Pirates losses, Liriano has an ERA of 1.83, posting wins in five of the last six opportunities.

Worth noting

• In 41 appearances covering 56 innings, Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro has allowed 16 runs -- only two more than he gave up in one 2 1/3-inning outing for the Royals on May 16, 2011.

• Looking forward to a possible playoff run-in with the Dodgers? Los Angeles is 41-11 since its last series loss. That came in Pittsburgh, on June 14-16.

Pedro Alvarez's next home run will make him the first third baseman in Pirates history with two seasons of 30-plus homers.

First number, last word

4: Home runs allowed by Pittsburgh pitchers in the last 18 games, entering Thursday afternoon's tilt in St. Louis.

"They're a much better team with him. Arguably he may be the best catcher in the big leagues. I like our guy, too. You'll see the two best behind the plate in the National League. Well, [Buster] Posey is pretty good, too -- you gotta throw him in there." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Yadier Molina's return to the Cardinals' lineup to match up with Pittsburgh receiver Russell Martin.