PITTSBURGH (AP) Not only does Shane Greene make pitching sound simple, he is making it look easy.
Greene pitched eight strong innings and the Detroit Tigers bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
”Throw strikes and pound the zone” the 26-year-old right-hander said in explaining his success.
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Greene (2-0) allowed just three singles and two of them never left the infield. He had three strikeouts and no walks after the Tigers’ six-game winning streak ended on Monday with a 5-4 loss.
”He has so much movement on his pitches,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. ”As long as he keeps the ball in the strike zone, he’s always going to be tough to hit.”
Greene has allowed only one unearned run in 16 innings through his first two starts of the season. Acquired from the New York Yankees in an offseason trade that also included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Greene also pitched eight innings last Thursday to beat the Minnesota Twins.
”Guys have made me feel welcome here from the beginning but it’s been a little extra special to win a couple of games,” Greene said. ”I feel like I’m even more part of the team now. You want the guys to know you can contribute.”
Though Greene threw just 81 pitches, Ausmus called on Joakim Soria to pitch the ninth. Soria retired the side in order for his third save in place of closer Joe Nathan, who is on the disabled list.
Detroit’s Rajai Davis, who singled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning, and Jose Iglesias each had two hits. Ian Kinsler add an RBI single in the eighth.
Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett (0-1) pitched effectively allowing only one run in 6 2/3 innings. He scattered seven hits, struck out eight and walked two.
”A very efficient, a very strong outing by A.J.,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.
A fan favorite in Pittsburgh before leaving as a free agent after the 2013 season and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, Burnett received a warm ovation from the PNC Park crowd.
The two walks cost Burnett, though, as he issued them back-to-back to Alex Avila and Jose Iglesias with one out in the seventh inning and the game scoreless.
Greene, who hadn’t stepped in a batter’s box since he was 14, struck out while unsuccessfully trying to bunt the runners up but Davis then grounded a single up the middle to score Avila.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander, on the disabled list with a right triceps strain, will pitch a simulated game Wednesday of at least four innings and 60 pitches. Ausmus is hoping the 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner might possibly throw as many as 75 pitches.
Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon (1-0) faces left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-0) in the finale of the three-game series.
Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in a December trade, Simon won his Tigers’ debut last Friday at Cleveland, allowing three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 3-4 career record against the Pirates.
Liriano, who is 5-8 against the Tigers, has not pitched since the April 6 opener at Cincinnati while spending time on the paternity list.
Hurdle was ejected in the top of the eighth inning by home plate David Rackley for arguing balls and strikes. Pittsburgh is the only team in the major leagues without a bench coach, so quality control coach Dave Jauss managed the team.
The youthful-looking Ausmus turned 46 and there were four balloons waiting on the desk when he arrived in the visiting manager’s office before the game.
Ausmus said his favorite birthday moment of his baseball career came in 1990 when he was a catcher with Class A Prince William, then a New York Yankees’ farm club based in northern Virginia.
”I turned 21, which meant I could I buy beer legally, Ausmus said. ”I’m just happy I can still remember that night.”