CHICAGO (AP) — Francisco Liriano pitched a four-hitter for his first complete game in more than two years, and the Pittsburgh Pirates won for the 11th time in 13 games, beating the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Friday.
Liriano went the distance for the first time since he tossed a no-hitter for Minnesota against the White Sox on May 3, 2011. He struck out seven and walked four to improve 5-1 in his last six starts. He also had an RBI single.
The Pirates, meanwhile, continue to roll along. They came in with the best record in the majors and a two-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central, and they had little trouble with Jeff Samardzija (5-8) and the Cubs.
Starling Marte had three hits, scored two runs and stole two bases to back another strong start by Liriano (8-3).
The left-hander gave up a two-run homer to Scott Hairston but not much else while improving to 3-0 against the Cubs this season.
That drive came after Liriano knocked in the game's first run in the top half with a single over shortstop Starlin Castro's glove.
The hit was just his fourth in 35 at-bats. It also gave him his first RBI since he was with Minnesota in 2011 and three in his career.
Garrett Jones, who's from suburban Tinley Park, Ill., had two hits. He drove in a run and scored one before Gaby Sanchez replaced him at first in the seventh inning.
Neil Walker delivered an RBI triple and scored during a three-run third against Samardzija that gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead and sent them to their seventh straight road win.
For Samardzija, it was simply a rough day. The 6-foot-5 right-hander gave up five runs in six innings, allowing nine hits for the second time in three starts while walking five. It was the most for him since he issued six against St. Louis last July 28.
Samardzija couldn't protect the lead after Hairston went deep off Liriano in the second, immediately giving up three in the third.
Center fielder Dave Sappelt didn't help matters when he took a bad angle trying to cut off a drive by Walker after Marte led off with a bunt single, resulting in an RBI triple. Jones drove in a run with a single and Andrew McCutcheon raced home from third as Jones stole second on a high throw while Russell Martin struck out, making it 4-2.
NOTES: A.J. Burnett will start Sunday for the Pirates after being sidelined the past month by a strained right calf, manager Clint Hurdle said. The veteran right-hander is 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 14 starts. ... Cubs manager Dale Sveum said OF David DeJesus, on the 15-day DL with a sprained right shoulder, has started swinging off a tee and can raise his arm over his head. He said there's no timetable for a return. Sveum also said OF Brian Bogusevic is day to day after leaving Thursday's game at Oakland because of tightness in his left hamstring. ... RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.50 ERA) makes his fifth start for the Pirates on Saturday, with RHP Edwin Jackson (4-10, 5.75) pitching for the Cubs.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
PHOTO: Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin, left, celebrated with starter Francisco Liriano after the Pirates defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-2 in a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, July 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)