CHICAGO (AP) — Whether he earns an invitation or not, Francisco Liriano at least is pitching like an All-Star.
The arm problems and struggles that weighed him down in recent seasons appear to be behind him. Now, all he's doing is breezing through opposing lineups.
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.
"This is an exclamation point to what he's been doing, to finish that game off today. In command throughout," manager Clint Hurdle said.
An All-Star as a rookie in 2006, 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 while tossing the first complete game by a Pittsburgh pitcher this season. He also had an RBI single.
The rosters for this year's All-Star game at Citi Field in New York will be announced on Saturday.
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 matched a season high by going 21 games over .500 on a day when the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija (5-8) couldn't keep the ball down in the zone.
Starling Marte had three hits to extend his streak to 10 games, 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.
"I'm having pretty good success here in Chicago," Liriano said.
He's having success, period. After back-to-back seasons with ERAs above 5.00, he's at 2.20 after this gem. He's consistently plowing through opponents in a way he hasn't since he was starting out with the Twins and before he had Tommy John elbow surgery.