Liriano tried to throw a fastball up and in to Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder to open the inning, but instead hung it over the middle of the plate and Fielder hit a solo homer to right. Liriano then walked two of the next three batters to bring up Mitch Moreland. Again, Liriano tried to go up and in with a fastball and again he hung it over the middle of the plate and Moreland didn't miss, ripping a three-run homer to right to give the Rangers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"In the fourth, I fell behind in the count a couple of times and then I left a couple of pitches over the middle," said Liriano, who came into the game 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in nine career outings against the Rangers. "Those two pitches [to Fielder and Moreland] changed the whole game for me. I didn't execute the pitches I needed to throw in that situation. I didn't start good that inning and it changed the whole game."
Liriano allowed just two hits over the first three frames before his command eluded him. He ended up walking four batters over his final three innings and giving up five runs on six hits while striking out six. He has now walked nine batters over 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts.
"When we got into the fourth inning, he wasn't repeating his delivery," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There were times he got into certain situations where he seemed to overthrow. The ball-to-strike count (43-57) tells you a lot. Two walks to right-handers and two missed locations to left-handers and they both made us pay. The first three innings it looked like he was heading in the right direction, and we crosscut a little bit, so we'll continue to work."
Sunday marked the first time Liriano (4-4) allowed a homer to a left-handed hitter since last Aug. 28, when Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez hit one off him. He had never allowed multiple homers to left-handed hitters in the same game in his Major League career.
"I have to put this one behind me and try to move forward and learn from my mistakes," Liriano said. "I've been trying to get good command with my fastball and try to execute pitches and not try to do too much. I made mistakes. They've got a pretty good lineup. You can't make the mistakes I made today."
Anthony Andro is a contributor for MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Sunday.