Francisco Liriano continued his recent dominance with seven strong innings, and Jose Tabata homered and drove in two runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Liriano (12-4) allowed only two hits to offset his five walks and had six strikeouts. The left-hander improved to 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA in his last eight starts for the NL Central leaders.
Tabata hit his first home run since May 11 — a span of 112 plate appearances — and also tripled while going 3 for 4.
The Rockies put men on base in six of Liriano’s seven innings but they went 0 for 9 against him with runners on, including five hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Gaby Sanchez had two hits and two RBIs for Pittsburgh, while Jordy Mercer and Andrew McCutchen added two hits each.
Fill-in closer Mark Melancon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.
Jorge De La Rosa (10-6) pitched four-plus innings and gave up three runs on six hits while striking out three and walking two. The outing came a day after Rockies owner Dick Monfort said Colorado would exercise De La Rosa’s $11 million club option for 2014.
Colorado lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Pirates scored one run each in the third through seventh innings to take a 5-0 lead.
In the third, Starling Marte led off with a single, stole second, took third on Jordy Mercer’s groundout and scored on Andrew McCutchen’s double. Tabata led off the fourth by homering over the 375 sign in right-center for his third of the season.
Sanchez hit run-scoring singles in both the fifth and seventh innings, while Tabata led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Josh Harrison’s squeeze bunt.
Colorado finally scored a pair in the eighth on consecutive RBI singles by Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer, who returned to the team after missing the previous two games because of a family emergency.
Colorado LF Carlos Gonzalez was not in the lineup for a fourth straight game with a sprained right middle finger but hopes to play today. ... Rockies 1B Todd Helton, who has normally been rested twice a week, played in nine straight games until being rested Saturday. ... Colorado RHP Roy Oswalt, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, was forced to cut short a simulated game because of tightness in the leg. ... Pittsburgh C Russell Martin sat out for the second time in three games because of left knee soreness.