Liriano threw five solid innings in his first start of the season and Tony Batista hit a grand slam to help the Twins snap a five-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
"Every time he takes the mound, it's just electric," said Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who also helped Liriano's cause with a solo homer in the sixth. "That poise he shows, he's in control of himself all the time."
Batista hit his ninth career grand slam in the eighth as part of a five-run inning. Brewers starter Doug Davis (2-3) had entered the inning trailing 2-1, but he walked Luis Castillo and allowed a single to Joe Mauer to put runners on the corners with no out, ending his night.
Mauer stole second, and after an out, reliever Jose Capellan intentionally walked Cuddyer.
"We were trying to get out of the inning with one pitch, turn a double play," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
But Capellan plunked Lew Ford, scoring Castillo, and Batista hit the next pitch over the Brewers' bullpen to make it 7-1.
"We were able to put some runs across the board and get a lot of cushion late with Tony's grand slam," Cuddyer said. "It was nice for us."
There's something even nicer on the horizon for the Twins, who had lost the last five games by four runs or less.
Minnesota lawmakers are expected to pass a financing plan for a $522-million outdoor ballpark for the Twins this weekend. Major construction would begin next year and the park would open in 2010.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee had been streaking during its nine-game homestand by winning five of the first six, including a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and three wins in the last at-bat.
But Liriano (2-0), working on a pitch count, allowed just one run on two hits while walking three and striking out five before giving way to Matt Guerrier.
"It's not like you can sit on one pitch because he throw his fastball at 96, 97," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can throw that slider just about anytime, and then when he mixes the changeup in there, I'm sure they were having a tough time."
Liriano was promoted from the bullpen in the hope that he'll provide much needed stability to the Twins rotation with Kyle Lohse (2-4, 8.92 ERA) banished to Triple-A and Carlos Silva (2-6, 8.62 ERA) trying to work out his problems in the bullpen.
"We got the win and I feel great," a smiling Liriano said. "I'm going to do my best, that's the only thing I do, can't help anything else."
The 22-year-old Dominican left-hander also had an RBI single and stymied the Brewers bats with a fastball that reached 97 mph in his final inning.
"He's a kid that they've got a lot of hope in over there," Yost said. "You can see why, throwing 97, 98 mph fastball with a really good breaking ball and a nice changeup. He's going to be a nice pitcher for them."
The Twins got on the board first when Ford was hit by Davis, who also walked Batista. After Juan Castro hit into a double play, Davis only needed to get Liriano out in his first major-league at-bat.
Davis failed, and Liriano's RBI flare single put Minnesota ahead 1-0.
"I made a good pitch, he just happened to flare it where we weren't," Davis said. "That's why it's an unfair game, right?"
Liriano managed to stay out of more trouble in the fourth and fifth with the help of double plays, and the Brewers failed to score with men on second and third with one away in the seventh after Jesse Crain relieved Dennys Reyes and got the final two outs.
Cuddyer's homer gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.
|Players of the Game|
|Shannon Stewart, LF||5||0||1||0||0||0||1||.298|
|Luis Castillo, 2B||4||1||0||0||1||0||1||.331|
|Joe Mauer, C||5||1||3||0||0||0||0||.318|
|Torii Hunter, CF||4||0||1||0||0||2||4||.267|
|Michael Cuddyer, 1B||3||2||1||1||1||1||4||.313|
|Lew Ford, RF||2||2||0||1||0||0||2||.244|
|Tony Batista, 3B||3||1||1||4||1||0||0||.244|
|Juan Castro, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.224|
|Francisco Liriano, P||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||.500|
|Matt Guerrier, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Rondell White, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.179|
|Dennys Reyes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jesse Crain, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Luis Rodriguez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.243|
|Juan Rincon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Joe Nathan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-fouled out for Guerrier in the 7th|
|b-lined out for Crain in the 8th|
|HR - Michael Cuddyer (4, Davis), Tony Batista (4, Capellan)|
|RBI - Michael Cuddyer (12), Lew Ford (6), Tony Batista 4 (16), Francisco Liriano (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Francisco Liriano (1)|
|SB - Joe Mauer (3, 2nd base off Capellan/D. Miller), Torii Hunter (3, 2nd base off Davis/D. Miller)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Outfield Assists - Shannon Stewart 1|
|DP - Stewart-Batista-Castillo, Batista-Castillo-Cuddyer, Castillo-Castro-Cuddyer|
|Francisco Liriano (W,2-0)||5||2||1||1||3||5||0||2.96|
|Matt Guerrier (H,1)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.70|
|Dennys Reyes (H,1)||0.1||2||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Jesse Crain (H,3)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||5.85|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 68-41, Matt Guerrier 18-12, Dennys Reyes 12-7, Jesse Crain 6-5, Juan Rincon 23-14, Joe Nathan 12-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 5-2, Matt Guerrier 2-0, Joe Nathan 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 17, Matt Guerrier 3, Dennys Reyes 3, Jesse Crain 2, Juan Rincon 5, Joe Nathan 3|
|Rickie Weeks, 2B||3||0||0||1||0||2||1||.277|
|Jeff Cirillo, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.375|
|Geoff Jenkins, RF||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.274|
|Carlos Lee, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.282|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.310|
|Bill Hall, SS||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.287|
|Damian Miller, C||2||1||0||0||1||1||3||.306|
|Brady Clark, CF||2||0||1||0||1||1||0||.254|
|Doug Davis, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.105|
|Jose Capellan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Gabe Gross, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.235|
|Chris Demaria, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Capellan in the 8th|
|2B - Prince Fielder (11, Reyes)|
|SF - Rickie Weeks (2)|
|SH - Doug Davis (1)|
|RBI - Rickie Weeks (11)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Hall-Weeks-Fielder|
|Doug Davis (L,2-3)||7||7||4||4||2||3||1||5.14|
|IBB - Cuddyer by Jose Capellan|
|HBP - Ford (by Doug Davis), Ford (by Jose Capellan)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Doug Davis 117-69, Jose Capellan 22-13, Chris Demaria 10-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Doug Davis 9-8|
|Batters Faced - Doug Davis 30, Jose Capellan 6, Chris Demaria 3|
|Attendance - 28462|
|Game Time - 2:45|
|Temperature - 64|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Schrieber, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Ed Hickox, Third Base - Doug Eddings|