Pirates 6, Tigers 2
Kevin Correia is learning not to panic. So is his surprisingly resilient team.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' steady No. 1 starter didn't let a fourth-inning hiccup get to him, hanging in against the Detroit Tigers until the offense picked him up in a 6-2 win.
The victory was the right-hander's first as a Pirate at PNC Park. He'd struggled in three previous starts this season at the quirky, hitter-friendly stadium, going 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA.
There were no such issues against the slumping Tigers, who lost their fifth straight. Correia (6-4) limited Detroit to two runs over 6 2-3 innings, striking out four.
''I did some stuff better today and some stuff wasn't that great,'' Correia said. ''I felt like I threw the ball well and I'm glad I hung in there long enough for our offense to really jump around.''
Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 4 and scored twice for Pittsburgh, which has won four straight for the first time since last September. Joel Hanrahan helped the Pirates escape a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth to pick up his 13th save.
''The guys are feeling it,'' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ''There's a little bit of less anxiety in the dugout. Even when we were down 2-0 there was some calmness.''
Thanks in part to Correia, who won five of his first seven decisions but has faded in May. He entered the game coming off his worst outing of the season in a loss at Milwaukee last Sunday.
While he wasn't dominant, he was good enough and didn't get rattled after the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth behind consecutive doubles from Andy Dirks and Miguel Cabrera.
''The experience of not letting a game spiral out of control like I had (helped),'' Correia said. ''I definitely think I threw the ball well enough to get the win tonight.''
Detroit's Max Scherzer (6-1) could say the same thing. He began the night tied for the American League lead in wins and looked dominant at times, retiring 10 straight during one stretch before fading in the sixth when the Pirates touched him up for three runs.
''I wish I would have executed better within the strike zone, especially with men on base,'' Scherzer said. ''I didn't finish hitters off. I gave them a chance to execute and get some big hits and sac flies and they did.''
An RBI single by Garrett Jones and sacrifice flies by Neil Walker and Lyle Overbay gave the Pirates the lead. They added three more runs in the seventh, highlighted by a two-run single by Matt Diaz.
''All I knew is if I didn't hit it back to the pitcher, I'd be OK,'' said Diaz, who helped the Pirates tack on an extra run later in the inning by extending a rundown long enough to allow teammate Jose Tabata to score.
The victory helped Pittsburgh match its entire 2010 win total in interleague play. The Pirates went a woeful 2-13 against National League teams last year, including an 0-3 mark against the Tigers.
Yet Hurdle has urged his team to forget about the past, and the Pirates have proven to be pluckier so far than the team that lost 105 games a year ago.
The win lifted Pittsburgh's record to 22-23, a solid if not spectacular start for team that hasn't posted a winning season since Detroit manager Jim Leyland led the Pirates to the National League East title nearly 20 years ago.
Leyland fondly remembers his time in Pittsburgh. His present isn't so hot.
The Tigers appeared to be rolling after ripping off seven wins earlier this month. They've backed it up with five losses in which they've scored eight runs.
''We're making it tough for our pitchers right now,'' Leyland said. ''Everything is life and death for them because they have no cushion.''
Detroit came in mired in a 2-for-31 slump with runners in scoring position, but hit three doubles in the fourth to jump in front.
''I thought maybe we would get something going,'' Leyland said. ''We three doubles in one inning to score two runs and I thought maybe that would us out of it a little bit.''
Not really. Yet when it really mattered, the Tigers again couldn't get the big hit they needed.
Detroit put two men on in the seventh to chase Correia and Austin Jackson drilled a fastball from Pittsburgh reliever Jose Veras. He just hit it to straight center field, where McCutchen caught it on the warning track to end the inning.
The Tigers had one last chance in the ninth after loading the bases with no outs.
Hanrahan, however, struck out Ryan Raburn looking then got Jackson to hit into a game-ending double play to put Pittsburgh in a position to sweep an interleague series for the first time since taking three games from Cleveland in 2001.
NOTES: Detroit's Jackson went 0 for 5 to end his 12-game hitting streak. ... Though his team's offense is struggling, Leyland opted to sit Victor Martinez. The team's normal designated hitter caught just his ninth game of the season on Friday. Martinez leads the Tigers with a .313 average. He grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth . ... Veras made the first plate appearance of his career in the seventh and ended up walking on four pitches and later scored on the double by Diaz. ... The game drew a sellout crowd of 37,958, the first time this season PNC Park has been filled to capacity since Opening Day.