Tigers 4, Pirates 3

Miguel Cabrera made an impressive swing look effortless.

Cabrera drove an outside pitch over the right-center fence in

the eighth inning for a go-ahead, three-run homer that sent the

Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 victory over the skidding Pittsburgh

Pirates on Sunday.

“As long as you watch baseball, you won’t see many guys that

hit the ball to opposite field like that,” Tigers manager Jim

Leyland said. “People get used to it around here. But trust me, in

the history of the game, there’s not many guys that take it out to

opposite field like it’s nothing.”

Leyland managed one of those players, Barry Bonds, for the first

seven years of his career. Since Bonds left the Pirates in 1992 to

sign with San Francisco, they haven’t had a winning record.

Pittsburgh, an NL-worst 23-40, has lost a season-high eight

straight to push the franchise closer to extending its run of

futility. The Pirates have had 17 straight losing seasons, the

longest streak in Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA and NHL.

They looked as though they might finally end their skid until

Carlos Guillen, who hit a leadoff home run in the 10th inning to

give Detroit a 4-3 win Saturday night, singled as a pinch-hitter to

open the eighth and chase starter Jeff Karstens.

Guillen and Johnny Damon, who drew a two-out walk against

reliever Javier Lopez, were on base when Cabrera became the first

major league hitter to reach 19 homers and 56 RBIs this season.

“Tough game,” Pirates manager John Russell said.

Pittsburgh has had a lot of those.

Detroit, meanwhile, got another win at home, where its 20-10

record has helped offset a 13-19 mark on the road to leave the

Tigers 2 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota.

Armando Galarraga gave up two runs in his first home start since

his near-perfect game.

“It was an unbelievable experience here that night, but it is

important that I keep it in the past,” he said.

Brad Thomas (4-0) replaced Galarraga and got the final out in

the eighth inning for the win. Jose Valverde closed it for his 13th

save, but gave up a run to end his scoreless streak at 25


Garrett Jones hit a solo homer in the second inning and an RBI

double in the fourth to put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0.

Alex Avila hit a solo shot to center in the seventh to pull the

Tigers within a run. Cabrera put them ahead on a homer off Octavio

Dotel the next inning, handing Lopez (1-1) the loss.

“Big-time players want to be up there in big situations,”

Leyland said. “That’s why they’re big-time players.”

Cabrera simply shrugged when told Leyland said that.

“Everyone wants to be in that situation,” he said. “I’m just

doing my job.”

Russell is having a hard time doing his, leading a team that is

struggling to score runs and is getting spotty pitching.

Karstens was charged with two runs on six hits and a walk in

seven-plus innings, his longest start this season.

“Karstens did a great job, and he turned it over to the bullpen

and they couldn’t finish it off,” Russell said. “That doesn’t

change what he did, a great start when we really needed one.”

The Pirates are averaging just 2 1/2 runs per game during their

losing streak.

Jones has done his part. He hit his second homer in two days –

and 10th this season. He also had two hits for the third straight

game and drove in two runs in the series finale.

“When you are in a slump like this, everything you hit hard

goes right at someone,” Jones said. “That’s what happened to

everyone but me.”

NOTES: Detroit rookie OF Austin Jackson left after a half-inning

because of back spasms and is day to day. … Magglio Ordonez

(strained oblique) missed his sixth straight game, but said he will

play Tuesday when Detroit hosts the Washington Nationals. …

Pirates RHP Charlie Morton (shoulder) is scheduled to make a rehab

start with Triple-A Indianapolis. … Pirates OF Jose Tabata has a

hit in each of his four career games. … Pittsburgh was swept by

Detroit for the first time in eight matchups.