Francisco Liriano has earned decisions in every start this year, going to 10-4 on the season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Francisco Liriano and the Pirates defense went out and did what playoff-caliber run preventers do. They frustrated and flummoxed the Washington Nationals over Liriano's 7.2 shutout innings on the way to a 4-2 victory.

As the games against fellow contending teams become more important, we may see more pitchers' duels like Tuesday's face-off between Liriano and Stephen Strasburg. And it was a pitchers' duel in every sense. All that separated the two power starters was a Pedro Alvarez solo home run (his 26th) that barely squeaked over the right-center-field fence. Liriano and the fielders were forced to be almost immaculate, and they were.

Liriano's first four pit...

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