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PIT@CIN: Liriano fans Heisey to escape 4th-inning jam

Just like Opening Day, Francisco Liriano will take the mound for the Pirates to start the second half of the season. Similar to Opening Day, Liriano is looking for a fresh start.

The left-hander's first half was marked by subpar starts and a stint on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. He'll try to turn the page when the Bucs host the Rockies on Friday.

Liriano also started in the Pirates' final game of the first half -- his first outing since his side forced him to the DL. Liriano lasted just four innings in his return, as he walked six batters and gave up three runs. He was charged with his seventh loss of the season, and he entered the All-Star break with just one win.

Even with Liriano's struggles and a pair of injuries to fellow starter Gerrit Cole, the Pirates have worked their way back into the thick of a tight race in the National League Central -- baseball's only division with more than three teams above .500.

Meanwhile, the Rockies are also hoping to put the first half in the rear-view mirror. They went from being eight games above .500 and tied for first in the NL West on May 7 to 14 games under and within a half-game of the last-place D-backs after falling, 13-5, to the Twins on Sunday.

Pirates: Polanco's numbers dip toward break
Gregory Polanco's debut in Pittsburgh couldn't have gotten off to a much better start, but he has just five hits in his last nine games (34 at-bats).

Polanco has played in 31 games since his June 10 debut, and though his average hovered around .300 for his first two dozen games, it's down to .260 after the skid in which he's hit .147.

The 22-year-old has three homers and 14 RBIs, and is also helping the Bucs with more than his bat. Polanco, a right fielder, threw out a runner at home in the 10th inning on Saturday against the Reds and the Pirates went on to win in 11 innings.

Rockies: Butler makes rehab start in High-A
Right-hander Eddie Butler threw four innings for High-A Modesto on Saturday, his first rehab appearance start since going to the DL with right rotator cuff inflammation.

Butler, ranked by MLB.com as the 33rd best prospect in baseball, gave up three runs on two hits, struck out a pair and walked two in his first outing since making his Major League debut for the Rockies on June 10.

In his debut, Butler, 23, gave up six runs and 10 hits to the Dodgers in 5 2/3 innings.

Worth noting
• The Pirates' rotation after the All-Star break will be Liriano, followed by Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Edinson Volquez and Vance Worley.

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