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MLB

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Player of the Week: Francisco Liriano

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates just kept chugging along last week with a 5-1 record against their division rivals the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. Before the start of Monday’s games, they were tied for second place in the National League Central, just 1.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Possibly the biggest game last week was a matchup against the Cubs and their ace Jeff Samardzija. He has a pretty good history against the Pirates, including an eight-inning scoreless effort on opening day. On Wednesday, the Pirates sent veteran lefty Francisco Liriano to the mound and a pitchers’ duel broke out.

Samardzija pitched well, allowing only one run on three hits while striking out eight over seven innings. Liriano was just a bit better as he allowed just two hits and no runs and struck out nine. The Pirates walked away with a 1-0 victory and Liriano picked up his third win. That showing earned him my Pirates’ player of the week honors.

Liriano has been a boost for the pitching staff since he came back after missing the first month of the season. In his three starts, he has an earned run average of 1.00 and is averaging well over a strikeout per inning pitched. The free agent deal that the Pirates signed Liriano to is looking better and better by the day.

The 29-year-old is looking better than he has in years, and maybe he has reclaimed his 2010 form where he he won 14 games. If that happens, the Pirates got themselves a steal.

Darren Pare is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at dpare71, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.