PITTSBURGH — Francisco Liriano doesn't like to think about what might have been. At the moment, the present is so sweet there's no use focusing on the past.
The veteran left-hander's renaissance hit a new high in Pittsburgh's 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
Liriano (9-3) scattered four hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking one to lower his ERA to a scant 2.00 as the Pirates snapped a four-game losing streak. The victory capped a remarkable first half for the former All-Star whose career hasn't been the same since reconstructive elbow surgery six years ago. At last, it seems, at age 29 he is all the way back.
Not that he wants to talk about it.
"I don't think about '06 at all," Liriano said. "I just try to learn how to pitch, how to move on."
That includes trying to stay focused during a lengthy rain delay of nearly three hours. When Liriano finally took the mound at soggy PNC Park just before 10 p.m., he didn't waste time. Attacking the strike zone relentlessly, Liriano kept the AL West-leading A's off-balance all night.
"He set the tone, he dominated," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was just on top of his game."
And the Pirates didn't let it go to waste.
Pedro Alvarez went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Jose Tabata also had two hits each as the Pirates beat Oakland for the first time.
Pittsburgh came in 0-11 against the A's since interleague play began in 1997, but broke loose against Tommy Milone (8-8). The Pirates managed just six runs total during a four-game slide that dropped them behind St. Louis in the battle for first in the NL Central but nearly matched that total on a night they went 5 for 9 with runners in scoring position, heady territory for a team that came in hitting just .226 with runners on second or third this season.