The Pittsburgh Pirates collected four home runs and a total of 21 hits Wednesday in their 9-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit. The Bucs are 7-4 in interleague action this season.
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The last time the crew of the Jolly Roger plundered 21 hits in a game was May 2004 against the Rockies in Colorado. Clint Hurdle‘s squad has won six in a row in interleague action with four of those victories coming on the road. With their second consecutive victory, Pittsburgh improved their record to 44-33.
The Pirates brought all of their weapons to bear in the top of the third when Neil Walker brought home Josh Harrison with a 366-foot line drive to right for his fifth home run of the season. The next run to score was Andrew McCutchen, who came around on Francisco Cervelli’s ground out to second.
Gregory Polanco kept the barrage going with a sharp ground ball single to right that drove in Pedro Alvarez. The fifth and final run of the inning came on Jordy Merer’s grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who made a throwing error that allowed Polanco to cross the plate.
It became 6-1 in the sixth after Alvarez was hit by a wild pitch off Detroit’s Al Alburquerque which allowed Walker to come home and score.
Pittsburgh’s final assault came in the eighth with a mini-version of Home Run Derby. Walker collected his second home run of the night and his sixth of the season on a 354-foot line drive to left. Starling Marte was next with a 421-foot line drive to left center for his 13th homer this season. Alvarez said don’t forget about me as he slugged a 421-foot fly ball to right center for his 11th round-tripper this summer. All three home runs came off the Tigers’ Joba Chamberlain.
The Pirates’ box score was looking good as Walker went 4-for-6 and Marte went 4-for-5. Not to be overlooked were Polanco’s 3-for-4 and Harrison’s 3-for-6. Alvarez, Cervelli, and Mercer were each 2-for-5 on the evening.
The pitching staff took care of business, starting with A.J. Burnett (7-3), who conceded just two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings for the Pirates. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound righthander struck out four and walked no one on the evening. The North Little Rock, Arkansas native delivered 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes in taking on 29 Tigers at the plate.
Jared Hughes granted only one hit, struck out one and did not walk a Tiger in the eighth. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound righthander fired 13 of his 20 pitches for strikes in facing five batters. Hughes, who will turn 30 on Saturday, has permitted just two hits in his last eight contests.
Arquimedes Caminero allowed only one earned run on three hits in closing out the ninth. The 6-foot-4, 253-pound righthander hurled 10 of his 11 pitches for strikes in battling six hitters. The Pirates are 11-2 in his last 13 appearances.
Detroit was the first to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second when Nick Castellanos hit a line drive single to left that scored Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes added a run in the sixth when his ground out to short pushed Victor Martinez across the plate. The Tigers picked up one more score in the ninth as James McCann belted his fourth home run of the season on a fly ball to left center.
It was a night to forget in the Motor City for Alfredo Simon (7-5), who surrendered six earned runs on 15 hits in five 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. The 6-foot-6, 267-pound righthander threw 73 of his 109 pitches for strikes in dueling with 31 members of the Jolly Roger crew. The last Tiger pitcher to give up that many hits in a contest was Scott Sanders, who relinquished 16 hits in four innings of work in 1998.
Up Next: The series finale Thursday will see a pair of lefthanders on the hill. The Tigers will hand the ball to 23-year-old Kyle Ryan (1-1, 4.56 ERA/1.35 WHIP). The Pirates will counter with 31-year-old Francisco Liriano (4-6, 3.21 ERA/1.01 WHIP). The afternoon match-up will get underway at 1:08 p.m. and it will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game lasted 3:21 and there were 31,351 in the seats at Comerica Park…The Pirates claimed the third-best record in the Majors for the month of June with a 17-9 mark. The two teams ahead of the Bucs were the Cardinals at 18-8 and the Blue Jays at 18-9…First baseman/outfielder Corey Hart went 1-for-4 with an RBI and run scored in his first game on a rehab assignment Tuesday with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Hart has been on the disabled list since June 24 with a left shoulder impingement…Among active pitchers, Burnett, with 2460 strike outs, is second behind CC Sabathia, who ranks 30th on the all-time strike out list with 2520.