Francisco Liriano has had dicey starts for the majority of his 2014 season, but the last two have been strong and stronger for the left-hander.
He'll attempt to keep that streak going Sunday in the Pirates' series finale against the D-backs.
Liriano, who racked up 16 wins last season, has just three this year, and two of them have come in his last pair of starts. After giving up one run over seven innings against the Dodgers on July 23, Liriano followed it up with the best start of his rocky season.
He gave up just four hits in seven innings against the Giants on Tuesday, the only run against him, coming on a Mike Morse homer. Liriano walked just one batter and recorded a season-best 11 strikeouts.
"Everything worked very well tonight," Liriano said after Tuesday's start. "Pitching is all about location and getting ahead in the count. I was able to get ahead with the fastball, then use my breaking ball."
While it seems that Liriano is trending upward, the same cannot be said about Arizona's Sunday starter, Trevor Cahill.
Cahill's 2014 has featured a designation for assignment, a stint in the bullpen and a high ERA. He was reinserted back in the D-backs' rotation after the All-Star break and will make his eighth start of the season Sunday.
In three starts in July, Cahill compiled a 5.40 ERA and .306 opposing batting average -- both numbers are close to his season averages.
However, one area where Cahill has been doing a better job lately is command. In his first four starts of the season, Cahill walked 13 batters in 17 2/3 innings. But he hasn't issued a free pass in either of his last two starts and has just two since being placed back in the rotation.
"I guess maybe I just adjusted my sights because I was walking guys," he said. "So instead of working the corners, just work middle, especially early in the count or behind in the count."
D-backs: Goldschmidt understanding of hit to hand
Though it didn't result in much, tempers flared on the field at the end of Friday's game after Arizona's All-Star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, was hit on the hand in the ninth inning.
The D-backs didn't get good news Saturday, when they learned Goldschmidt fractured his left hand and had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list because of the inside pitch from Bucs reliever Ernesto Frieri. While the hit caused some stir, Goldschmidt said he was understanding of what happened in a four-run game.
"Guys get hit. It's a part of the game," Goldschmidt said. "He's probably trying to make a pitch, and missed his spot a little bit. ... It's just part of it."
Neither Goldschmidt nor D-backs manager Kirk Gibson had an idea on when the first baseman could return as of Saturday. He is hitting .300 this season with 19 homers, 69 RBIs and a .938 OPS.
In the ninth inning on Saturday, reliever Randall Delgado was ejected for hitting the Pirates' best player, Andrew McCutchen, in the back with a pitch. McCutchen stayed in the game.
Pirates: Marte makes rehab appearance in Triple-A
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as he faced live competition for the first time in 12 days on Saturday, making a rehab appearance with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Marte was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list a few days after taking a fastball off his helmet. He led off and played left field for Indianapolis, and is set to remain with the team through Tuesday when the Pirates will reassess the 25-year-old.
In his third Major League season, Marte is hitting .255/.328/.385 in 86 games with 26 extra-base hits and a team-best 21 steals.
• Josh Harrison, who was 3-for-4 with a double and home run on Saturday, has nine extra-base hits through nine games of the Pirates' current road trip.
• Gibson was ejected Saturday after arguing with umpires resulting from a replay review that did not go in the D-backs' favor. It was the third time the manager was tossed this season.