Liriano caps historic stretch for Pirates' rotation

Bucs get three straight double-digit K games from starters for first time since 1969

Liriano caps historic stretch for Pirates' rotation

PITTSBURGH -- When his pitchers are piling up strikeouts, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle likes to say they're just playing catch. There might as well be nobody else on the field -- just the pitcher and catcher, throwing the ball back and forth as opposing hitters walk to and from the dugout.

This weekend, the Pirates swept the Mets behind three pretty good games of catch.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cutch warming up after big series vs. Mets

Pirates center fielder goes 6-for-10 with two home runs, four RBIs

Cutch warming up after big series vs. Mets

PITTSBURGH -- With a homer off Mets ace Matt Harvey on Saturday and another in Sunday afternoon's 9-1 victory, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is in a groove.

"I feel horrible," McCutchen joked, then paused. "Nah, I feel good. I just want to keep on going."

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano whiffs 12 as Pirates sweep away Mets

Liriano whiffs 12 as Pirates sweep away Mets

PITTSBURGH -- Left-hander Francisco Liriano bounced back from his worst start of the season, completing a trio of dominant starting-pitching performances as the Pirates swept the Mets with a 9-1 win at PNC Park on Sunday.

Picking up where Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett left off, Liriano racked up 12 strikeouts, the most for any Pirates pitcher this season, and held the Mets to one run over six innings. It was a return to form for the Bucs' Opening Day starter, who allowed seven runs in two innings on Tuesday against the Twins.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morton set to make 2015 debut facing Marlins

Morton set to make 2015 debut facing Marlins

Ready to go after three rehab starts, Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton, who had offseason hip surgery, is slated to start his first game of the 2015 season when Pittsburgh takes on David Phelps and the Marlins on Monday night at PNC Park.

Morton, who posted a 3.72 ERA last season, assumes his spot in the rotation as Vance Worley, who moved to the bullpen on Tuesday, remains in a relief role.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang's emergence gives Bucs defensive versatility

Kang's emergence gives Bucs defensive versatility

PITTSBURGH -- During Spring Training, the Pirates set a few smaller goals that, they believed, would help push them toward their ultimate goal of getting back to the postseason.

They wanted to add depth, become a more versatile team and keep their stars fresh enough to stay productive throughout a long, grueling season.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bastardo struggling, but still an important piece

Bastardo struggling, but still an important piece

PITTSBURGH -- With a home run surrendered in each of his last two appearances entering Sunday, Pirates reliever Antonio Bastardo hasn't been precise recently, and it's not going unnoticed.

Bastardo, who Pittsburgh acquired in a trade from the Phillies in December, hasn't been the normally reliable left-hander he was in Philadelphia. After serving up the game-winning homer in Wednesday's 13-inning loss to the Twins, Bastardo allowed another on Saturday in cleanup duty in the Pirates' 8-2 win over the Mets.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

ASG debate: McCutchen or Marte in NL OF?

Both Pirates are worthy of All-Star consideration

ASG debate: McCutchen or Marte in NL OF?

*** We will be doing daily ASG debates until balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think! ***

The most difficult All-Star ballot decisions often come down to established commodities vs. hot hands. These choices are all the more interesting when they involve two guys on the same team. Or more directly, in the same outfield.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett authoring quite the swan song with Pirates

Right-hander leads the Majors with a 1.37 ERA in final season

Burnett authoring quite the swan song with Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett walked off the mound at PNC Park after the seventh inning, striding slowly from the third-base line toward the Pirates' dugout with his glove in his right hand. He quickly raised it above his head, fist-bumped catcher Francisco Cervelli and hugged manager Clint Hurdle.

Burnett is enjoying his time back in Pittsburgh, and it's showing on the mound.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates execute game plan perfectly vs. Harvey

Pirates execute game plan perfectly vs. Harvey

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had a simple plan for his hitters taking on Mets ace Matt Harvey: look for good early pitches to hit, then work the pitch count.

It's a sound concept, sure. But against one of the league's dominant aces, it's easier said than done.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett cruises as Bucs bash around Harvey

Burnett cruises as Bucs bash around Harvey

PITTSBURGH -- Saturday's game at PNC Park was billed as a pitchers' duel, a showdown between Mets ace Matt Harvey and veteran A.J. Burnett. But the Pirates quickly turned it into the worst start of Harvey's young career, running away with an 8-2 win over the Mets.

Burnett, meanwhile, continued to show no signs of slowing down in what he's said will be the final season of his career. The 38-year-old right-hander struck out 10 and improved to 4-1 with a Major League-best 1.37 ERA with his ninth straight start allowing two runs or fewer.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole proves how tough it is to notch a CG

Cole proves how tough it is to notch a CG

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole showed Friday night how hard it is to finish off a complete game.

He was efficient with his pitches. Only five of the 29 batters he faced saw more than five pitches in a plate appearance. The only walk he issued was to the last hitter he faced.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole nearly goes distance, fans 10 Mets

Cole nearly goes distance, fans 10 Mets

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole emerged victorious in a battle of electric young right arms Friday night, outdueling Noah Syndergaard and looking like one of the National League's top pitchers as the Pirates beat the Mets, 4-1, at PNC Park.

"It's the best performance I've seen him throw so far," Pirates catcher Chris Stewart said. "He just keeps getting better and better. The sky's the limit for him right now."

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Just shy of complete game, Cole in complete control

Catcher Stewart, manager Hurdle praise young righty for career-best 8 1/3-inning effort

Just shy of complete game, Cole in complete control

PITTSBURGH -- Even if Gerrit Cole had not walked Eric Campbell on a full-count fastball with one out in the ninth inning, there's no guarantee he would have completed Friday night's 4-1 win over the Mets.

Even if Campbell had swung and missed for Cole's 11th strikeout or grounded into an easy out, it would have been a tough decision for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Cole is a key piece of the Bucs' present and their future, went to the disabled list twice last season and taxed his right arm with 111 pitches vs. New York.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Awkward slide doesn't diminish Kang's impact

Awkward slide doesn't diminish Kang's impact

PITTSBURGH -- Beating the throw wasn't an issue. But sticking the landing was.

On a high fly ball along the left-field line in the sixth inning of Friday night's 4-1 win over the Mets, Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang readied himself to tag up at third base and make a dash for the plate.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen's paystub posted online

McCutchen's paystub posted online

PITTSBURGH -- The Internet got a closer look into Andrew McCutchen's personal finances Thursday, when a picture of his paystub was posted to Reddit.com and a redacted version was posted on the sports blog Deadspin.

The picture reveals the details of the most recent deposit into McCutchen's bank account. The Pirates outfielder said the stub was left behind in the visitor's clubhouse at Wrigley Field in Chicago, but he didn't remember how he lost track of it.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs ready to dig out of another early hole

After bouncing back from rough start in 2014, Pirates know what lies ahead

Bucs ready to dig out of another early hole

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates entered this season no longer satisfied with the thought of being a Wild Card team. They set their sights higher, then stumbled out of the gate too long to simply write it off as a slow start.

If the narrative sounds familiar, that's because it played out almost the same way last year. Except the Pirates were technically in worse shape then, having carried a 17-23 record through their first 40 games.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates hope fortunes in close games can change

Pirates hope fortunes in close games can change

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates played out an unfortunately familiar script for 13 innings Wednesday night at PNC Park.

They fell behind. They battled back. They pitched well. And they lost, this time to the Twins by one run, 4-3.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Locke, bullpen have big night despite loss

Locke, bullpen have big night despite loss

PITTSBURGH -- After a leadoff double by Danny Santana and a single by Joe Mauer, Pirates starter Jeff Locke walked third baseman Trevor Plouffe to load the bases in the top of the first of Wednesday night's game against the Twins.

Then, Torii Hunter unloaded them with a three-run double.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates rally, but fall short in 13 innings to Twins

Pirates rally, but fall short in 13 innings to Twins

PITTSBURGH -- Joe Mauer picked the right moment for his first home run of the season, ripping a solo shot to right field in the 13th inning and sending the Twins to a 4-3 win over the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday night.

The Twins jumped out to a three-run lead in the first but let the Pirates creep back into the game before trading zeros for three extra frames. Mauer finally broke through against Pirates lefty Antonio Bastardo, lining an 0-1 pitch into the right-field stands, his first homer since Aug. 17.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Justice: Good times are coming for the Pirates

Pirates, A's and Red Sox have talent, leadership to bounce back

Justice: Good times are coming for the Pirates

Sure, it's OK to fret about the Pirates and A's if those are your teams. Likewise, the Red Sox. You think the people in charge aren't fretting? Sure, they are. As Giants manager Bruce Bochy puts it, "You can't win your division in April, but you can sure lose it."

Besides that, it's not early anymore. In some cases, six weeks is plenty of time to understand what a team is or isn't.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alvarez's HR lands in boat on Allegheny River

Alvarez's HR lands in boat on Allegheny River

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez has hit a lot of home runs in his life -- 111 of them in the Majors, 46 in the Minors, 49 at Vanderbilt University and countless others before then.

But Tuesday night was a first for Alvarez and a rare occurrence at PNC Park. Alvarez launched a home run all the way out of the ballpark during the Pirates' 8-5 loss to the Twins, ripping a solo shot that landed in a boat moored in the Allegheny River.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates' rally falls just short against Twins

Pirates' rally falls just short against Twins

PITTSBURGH -- The Twins used a six-run second inning to build up a big lead against former Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano and held on to beat the Pirates, 8-5, at PNC Park on Tuesday night.

Liriano, who pitched for the Twins from 2005-12, gave up seven runs on five hits, including two homers, in only two innings of work. Minnesota sent nine batters to the plate in the second, when Joe Mauer drove in three runs on a single to left and Trevor Plouffe added two more with a homer to left-center field.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates add Tabata to outfield mix

Young vet up from Triple-A; Boscan optioned as Sellers moves to 60-day DL

Pirates add Tabata to outfield mix

PITTSBURGH -- General manager Neal Huntington recently admitted that Jose Tabata's return to the big leagues might have to come elsewhere, but he made it clear that he hoped to see the outfielder in a Pirates uniform again.

The Pirates gave Tabata another shot Tuesday, selecting his contract from Triple-A Indianapolis and placing him on the active roster.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates believe Mercer's finding his form

Pirates believe Mercer's finding his form

PITTSBURGH -- Shortstop Jordy Mercer got off to a slow start last season, carrying a .227 average into July, before taking off and playing at a high level in the second half.

The Pirates believe Mercer, off to another sluggish start at the plate, is getting close to recapturing his form again.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates back to patient approach at the plate

Pittsburgh offense has regained 2014 form over past two weeks

Pirates back to patient approach at the plate

PITTSBURGH -- Before the Pirates left for Philadelphia to open a road trip last week, general manager Neal Huntington essentially boiled down the state of his club's offense to this: They had the right players doing the wrong things.

But over the past two weeks, the Pirates have occasionally performed like the offensive club they were expected to be. At the very least, they've performed more like the offensive club they were a year ago.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett dazzles again in proclaimed final season

Veteran righty acknowledges that adjustments have improved his results

Burnett dazzles again in proclaimed final season

CHICAGO -- Unlike Shelby Miller 1,200 miles away, A.J. Burnett didn't pose a no-hit threat. He gave up a knock to his second hitter of the game. But 24 batters later, the Cubs had only two other hits, and Burnett's ERA (1.38) was a tick behind Miller's (1.33) as the National League's lowest.

How's that for a farewell tour? Burnett didn't want people to make a big deal of what he proclaimed his final season. But he's turning it into a very big deal himself.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.