Olivera extends hit streak, Braves beat Liriano, Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Hector Olivera extended his hitting streak to seven games and drove in three runs as the Atlanta Braves roughed up opening day starter Francisco Liriano and the split-squad Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 Monday.

Liriano hit a home run, but departed after 3 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs, with one walk and five strikeouts.

"Didn't have any fastball command today," Liriano said. "It kept sailing all over the place, up and down."

"That's what we're here for, to get better at things we need to work on. Hopefully next time will be a lot better. . One more start to get myself ready for opening day," he said.

Olivera singled twice and has hit safely in 15 of his past 16 games.

Nick Swisher doubled twice and drove in two runs. The batters in the middle of the Atlanta lineup -- Adonis Garcia, Swisher, Jeff Francoeur and Olivera -- had two hits apiece.

"We swung the bats early, got some runs," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was a good day for the Braves."

Pirates right-hander Daniel Bard, a minor leaguer trying to make his way back to the majors, allowed three runs on three hits and two walks without recording an out in the fourth. Bard was Boston's setup man from 2009-11.


Braves: RHP Jhoulys Chacin, a front-runner for one of the available spots in the Braves' rotation, gave up four hits and a run in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.

"I was able to make pitches when I needed to, just a lot of deep counts so my pitch count was up and I couldn't finish my (allotted) innings," Chacin said. "But it was nice that I didn't give up a lot of two-out base hits or any two-out RBI like what happened in my last outing."

Pirates: After navigating around some trouble early, Liriano allowed five consecutive hits in a three-run third. In three Grapefruit League starts this spring, Liriano has given up 12 hits and six runs in 8 2/3 innings.

"Frankie's not a guy you're going to lose any sleep over," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll give him the ball again and see how he does."


Pirates: C Elias Diaz was shut down Monday due to right elbow discomfort. The catcher, expected to start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, will rest for a week and be re-evaluated. . 3B Jung Ho Kang (knee) faced live pitching the past two days at the Pirates' minor league facility but has not yet progressed to the baserunning stage of rehab. General manager Neal Huntington said Kang still is expected to return to the lineup in mid- to late April.

"If he's ready earlier, that's fantastic," Huntington said. "If he's ready later, we're in a good spot still."


Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz start Tuesday for a road game against the Houston Astros. Foltynewicz, the Braves' first-round pick in 2010, gave up two runs over two innings against Washington in his spring debut.

Pirates: After an off-day Tuesday, LHP Jeff Locke is expected to start Wednesday against Baltimore at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Locke (0-3, 7.07 ERA) is in a three-man competition for the final two spots in the Pirates' rotation.