Francisco Liriano took another step toward proving that his dismantling at Coors Field two weeks ago was a fluke.
He carved up the San Diego Padres with a devastating slider forcing swing after swing at nothing but air in the Pirates' 3-1 victory Monday night at Petco Park.

The Pirates maintained their one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central after the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night.

"Everything is going the way I want it to" Liriano said. "I'm just trying to continue doing that."

Liriano (14-5) pitched seven scoreless innings striking out 13 and allowing four hits. His strikeout total gave him a new season high surpassing the 11 strikeouts he recorded against the Cincinnati Reds on June 1. He became the first Pirate to strike out more than 11 batters since Kip Wells did it in 2005.

"Having good command with my fastball makes everything easier for me" Liriano said. "Hopefully I can continue doing that."
The only time Liriano struck out more than 13 batters in his career came last July when as a member of the Minnesota Twins he struck out 15 Oakland Athletics in eight innings. Fittingly for the date -- Friday the 13th -- he lost that game.

Liriano made his Petco Park debut five days after throwing a complete game against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his start before that he allowed 10 runs without making it out of the third inning against the Colorado Rockies.

He struck out eight Padres in the first three innings. In the second Yonder Alonso Chase Headley and Nick Hundley all went down swinging at Liriano's slider which consistently started low in the zone before arcing into the dirt.

"It looks like a strike out of his hand" manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's not where it finishes."