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• The Pirates' overdependence on homers last season was perceived as making them prone to scoring slumps, but Hurdle was not concerned with the fact the Bucs started play Sunday having scored 18 of their last 21 runs on long balls.

"Just the way it comes. We try to build innings, see pitches, run up pitch counts. We've seen some pitches left up in the zone, and we're putting good swings on them," Hurdle said.

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• Francisco Liriano made his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Indianapolis, and will next take the mound for the Pirates on Saturday in New York against the Mets. The lefty had been sharp in his first four rehab starts -- three walks and 27 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings -- but Hurdle watches such numbers through the Minor League prism.

"Has his command been solid? Yes," the manager said. "But you have to keep in mind the quality of hitters from the top to the bottom of the lineup. Are they swinging at the same pitches as they will in the Majors? We don't know."

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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