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Liriano the Hero as Pirates End Long Wait

Pitching coach, Ray Searage, paid tribute to Francisco Liriano after the 29-year-old former Minnesota Twins star helped the Pittsburgh Pirates reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

A massive crowd of 40,000 at PNC Park watched the Pirates set up a National League Divisional Series against the St Louis Cardinals by beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the NL Wildcard game.

Liriano went seven innings and gave up four hits and one earned run. He walked one and struck out five. Of his 90 pitches, 64 were strikes, and he had 13 groundouts.

He retired nine consecutive batters to open the game and threw just 28 pitches by the end of the third inning, 23 for strikes.

Heading into the game, Liriano had pitched in just two postseason games – both for Minnesota against the New York Yankees.

Liriano agreed a two-year contract with the Pirates in February and made his debut three months later against the New York Mets in the MLB.

He had enjoyed seven years with the Twins before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in July 2012 in exchange for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez.

However, he struggled with the White Sox, receiving criticism from fans in onlineĀ forums, and was removed from their rotation just two months later.

Since losing in the 1992 playoffs to the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh have endured a dismal time, struggling to 20 consecutive losing seasons, the longest such streak in North American professional sports history – before posting a 94-68 record in 2013.

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