Major League Baseball
Porcello's gem sends Tigers over Bucs
Major League Baseball

Porcello's gem sends Tigers over Bucs

Published Jun. 13, 2009 4:20 a.m. ET

Rick Porcello made the most of his first opportunity to bat in the big leagues. His pitching was pretty good too.

Porcello threw seven crisp innings and had a pair of RBI singles for his first major league hits, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

"Pitching is always the first priority but it was fun to get a couple of hits," Porcello said with a smile.

The 20-year-old rookie's impressive night came in front of an audience more focused on Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Detroit than on the baseball game. The crowd of 18,369 erupted twice in the late innings after Penguins center Max Talbot scored two second-period goals. The Penguins held on to beat the Red Wings 2-1 for the title.

Placido Polanco went 4 for 4 for AL Central-leading Detroit, which has won six of eight. Porcello (7-4) allowed one run and six hits.

Porcello became the first Tigers pitcher with a multihit game since Jeff Weaver had two hits on June 23, 2002, against Florida. The right-hander also was the first Detroit pitcher to collect more than one RBI in a game since Joe Coleman drove in three on Sept. 21, 1972, at Boston, the season before the designated hitter was adopted by the AL.

"I told (Leyland) before the game that I was a good hitter in high school but that was mainly so he wouldn't pinch hit for me early," Porcello said.

Porcello drove in Magglio Ordonez with a two-out single off Ian Snell (1-7) in the second inning. Ordonez led off with a base hit, stole second and moved to third on Ramon Santiago's single.

Porcello struck again with two outs in the sixth. Snell intentionally walked Santiago to put runners on first and second before his counterpart pulled a pitch down the right-field line to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

"He's just an athlete, one of those special guys," Leyland said of Porcello. "He's 20 years old and succeeding in the big leagues, and he's just a baby."

Snell (1-7) gave up two runs and 10 hits in seven innings, dropping 0-5 with a 5.81 ERA in his last 10 starts. Pittsburgh has lost five of seven overall.

"I thought I pitched pretty well but I couldn't get the pitcher out," Snell said. "I guess that's karma for you."

John Grabow replaced Snell and Brandon Inge hit his first pitch over the wall in left for his 14th homer, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Zach Miner pitched a scoreless eighth and Fernando Rodney got three outs for his 12th save. Adam LaRoche doubled with one out in the ninth but Rodney retired Andy LaRoche on a grounder to first and struck out Brandon Moss to end the game.

Freddy Sanchez hit an RBI double in the sixth for Pittsburgh's only run.


Leyland put CF Curtis Granderson back in the leadoff spot and said he will remain there for the foreseeable future. Leyland had been experimenting with Granderson hitting in the No. 5 spot with left fielder Josh Anderson batting first. INF/OF Don Kelly, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, joined the Tigers on Friday and started in left. Kelly made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2007 and is a Pittsburgh native. Pirates RHP Tyler Yates underwent tests on his ailing right elbow that showed no structural damage. Yates has been on the disabled list since May 16 with elbow inflammation and had to cut short a simulated game Tuesday when he began experiencing pain in the elbow.


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