DETROIT — Lefty Jonathon Niese checked Detroit on five hits over six innings while Matt Joyce, getting a chance to start because Pittsburgh needed a designated hitter in an American League park, keyed two early rallies with a single plus a double Monday to help the Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the Tigers.
Niese gave up a pair of solo home runs to J.D. Martinez, his first, in the fifth and Nick Castellanos, also his first, in the second while becoming the second softer-tossing southpaw in two games to beat Detroit.
CC Sabathia, who no longer hits 90 mph, earned a win over the Tigers for the New York Yankees on Saturday.
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Niese (1-0) struck out five while walking one and he only breached 90 mph a couple of times as he changed speeds and moved the ball around. He allowed two runs in the sixth, one on a fielder's choice groundout and the other on an RBI single by Martinez.
Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless seventh, Tony Watson the eighth and Mark Melancon picked up his third save in the ninth.
The Pirates chased Justin Verlander (0-1) with a one-out double and a single in the fifth as part of a 17-hit attack. Reliever Drew VerHagen gave up an RBI double to Gregory Polanco and an RBI single to Sean Rodriguez as Pittsburgh padded its lead to 7-1.
Pittsburgh pushed its lead to 5-1 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by John Jaso.
Castellanos' home run with two out in the second cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-1 but the Pirates restored their lead to 4-1 in the third with a sacrifice by Francisco Cervelli. Joyce doubled leading off and moved up on a groundout.
Pittsburgh forced Verlander to throw 37 pitches in the second inning. He ended with 111 pitches, allowing 10 hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Jordy Mercer grounded a two-run single up the middle in the second. Jaso doubled to open the game, went to third on a fly to center and scored when Joyce punched a one-out single through the left side.
NOTES: 1B John Jaso, Pittsburgh's leadoff hitter, doubled to left leading off the game and now has reached base safely in each of the first seven Pirates games. … Rehabbing Tigers RHP Alex Wilson and OF Cameron Maybin each were moved from Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo on Monday. Maybin was to play Tuesday and Wilson to pitch after that as both are expected to be ready for Detroit within a week. … Detroit C James McCann was errorless in his first 121 games entering Monday, the longest such streak by a rookie catcher in the majors since 1900. … Pittsburgh closer RHP Mark Melancon (102 saves entering Monday) is one of four Pirates to have saved 100 or more games with the franchise.