e he has been in the Pirates rotation all season, making 19 s

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PITTSBURGH -- The Milwaukee Brewers invested $50 million on Matt Garza three years ago to be their staff ace. Theyve been rewarded with 15 victories since then, just one this season.The Pittsburgh Pirates, never one to throw money around, are paying left-hander Francisco Liriano $13 million to be their staff ace this season. Theyve been rewarded with only five victories, and just one in his last nine starts dating to May 24.The NL Central rival Brewers and Pirates wrap up the first of their five series over the second half of the season Thursday, when two of the majors most disappointing starting pitchers match up only 10 days before the trading deadline.The Brewers, of course, would love to see Garza pitch well -- something hes done infrequently while going 15-25 overall since signing his big contract. And not just to benefit them on the field.Garza, 32, has pitched so little this season due to a lat problem that landed him on the 60-day disabled list -- and pitched so ineffectively when hes been on the mound -- that hes significantly reduced his value. If they could swing a deal, the Brewers no doubt would pay much of the money still due Garza through the end of the 2017 season.Garza has made only one quality start in six games, and the Brewers are 1-5 in those -- including a 5-4 loss Friday at Cincinnati in which he gave up four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Opposing hitters are batting .328 against the right-hander.Lirianos struggles are more pronounced because he has been in the Pirates rotation all season, making 19 starts. But hes lasted at least six innings only once since June 11 -- during a 5-1 loss in Washington on Friday.And the problems he developed early in the season with his mechanics, and with throwing strikes, arent going away.Once the protege of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Liriano and Searage havent seemed to be on the same page as Lirianos uneven first half of the season has carried over into the second half. And with the Pirates searching for a reliable starting rotation down the stretch -- theyd probably like to add a starter -- it becomes even more important for them to get Liriano untracked.Im more focused on throwing strikes right now, not thinking about the hitters and whether they can put the ball in play or not, Liriano said after the Nationals loss, in which he walked at least three for the ninth time in 10 starts. Im just making sure Im executing pitches and throwing everything down in the zone.Each team will be looking for a series win Thursday following the Pirates 3-2 win on Tuesday and the Brewers 9-5 decision on Wednesday, when Jonathan Lucroy drove in three runs and Scooter Gennett and Chris Carter had two RBI each.Every time those guys came up, they were in RBI situations. What you want in your lineup is for the first two guys to set up your big run producers, and Brauny and Luc came through, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.Pirates starter Jeff Locke and four relievers aided the Brewers offense by combining to walk nine.He (Locke) will be the first to tell you he walked too many guys -- when you walk guys and they get a big hit, that can hurt you in a hurry, Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer said.The Brewers kept the pressure on the Pirates by twice executing double steals, one involving leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar, who reached base four straight times on two singles and two walks.Well pick spots to run and try to capture bases, and just push it and keep pressure (on), Counsell said.Thats a strategy theyll try to employ Thursday against Liriano, who has lost his last three decisions at PNC Park. Cheap Jerseys Online . 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Luke Harrison spoiled Garrett Hughsons shutout bid with a power-play goal at 13:17 of the third period. The Spokane goaltender finished with 28 saves, including a Brandon Fushimi penalty shot in the second period that would have tied the game 1-1. Cheap NFL Jerseys USA . The 29-year-old Baines has established himself as one of the top attacking full backs in the country and was the subject of two bids from United during the last off-season. Everton manager Roberto Martinez says that keeping Baines at the club is a "massive boost and exciting for the future" because he brings "maturity and football knowledge in a very specialized position on the pitch" and an "infectious and positive influence to the rest of the squad. James Maloney has seen the good and the bad of preliminary finals.As the star Cronulla playmaker prepares to play off for a spot in the NRL grand final for the fourth straight year, he feels the losses more keenly than the wins.After three successive preliminary finals with Sydney Roosters, Maloney shapes as key to Cronullas hopes of progressing through to the grand final with a win over North Queensland at Allianz Stadium on Friday.In 2013 Maloney won the NRL premiership with the Roosters, but the past two years ended in heartbreak.You just understand how bad it feels to get knocked out at a game like this, Maloney said.We have put ourselves in a really good position. We have put a lot of expectations on ourselves. If we were to bow out this week, then it ends in a lot of disappointment.You only get so many opporttunities in sides to do something special and it sucks to not take advantage of it.dddddddddddd.Maloney said the lesson he has taken from these big games was the hurt losses can bring.I still look back at the Roosters sides we had, we only managed to win it one out of the three years and I reckon we should have got at least one of the other two. That still hurts, he said.We have enough older guys here (at Cronulla) that have played enough footy and they realise how rare it is.It is making sure the younger guys are aware of that.It is easy for them to come into a successful side and think it just happens but you have to realise it doesnt.You need to make sure you take your opportunities. ' ' '

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