DETROIT -- Justin Upton hit a tape-measure drive to center field for his first home run as a Tiger as part of a four-hit attack, supporting Anibal Sanchez through 5 2/3 innings for an 8-2 win over the Pirates on Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
J.D. Martinez added a pair of RBI hits as part of his four-hit game and Victor Martinez hit a two-run double to help Detroit build an early lead off struggling Pirates starter Juan Nicasio (1-1) and add on late. Nicasio, who tossed six innings of one-run ball for the win in his Pirates debut last week, labored through three innings and 94 pitches Tuesday.
"He's got a good riding fastball, and sometimes it looks hittable when it's a little bit above your bat," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "So the emphasis was to really get the ball down in the zone so you can get on top of it a little bit."
Sanchez (2-0) had retired 10 consecutive Pirates and was an 0-2 pitch away from striking out the top of the Pittsburgh order in the sixth when David Freese's infield single set up Starling Marte's second homer of the year. Three add-on runs off Kyle Lobstein restored Detroit's cushion before Ian Kinsler's seventh-inning solo homer off Cory Luebke put the game away.
"It was a little bit lower stress," Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Upton up and away: Upton, the prized free-agent signing who has fit into the two-hole in Detroit's lineup, made his first home run as a Tiger a memorable one, taking a Nicasio slider and depositing it into the center-field camera well. The estimated 451-foot drive opened the scoring. More >
Rally starts and stops quickly: A two-out, two-run home run by Marte in the sixth inning was followed by a walk to Francisco Cervelli, putting the tying run at the plate in a 4-2 game, but former Pirate Justin Wilson, who relieved Sanchez, got Gregory Polanco to ground out to second to end the threat. The Tigers would score three in the bottom half of the frame to break it open.
V-Mart strikes: Marte's homer halved Detroit's lead and led the crowd, announced at 26,489, to grow a bit anxious before the Tigers -- led by Victor Martinez -- added on. Given a second time up against former teammate Lobstein, Martinez barely missed a home run down the left-field line before slashing the gap on a 2-2 pitch to score Upton and Kinsler. Martinez reached base four times.
"There's no question: When they score, if you come back and score in the next half-inning, that can take a little bit of wind out of an opponent's sails," Ausmus said. "Those were big runs at the time and obviously put some space behind us."
Lobstein hit hard by former team: Lobstein got through his first two innings of relief without damage, but he allowed four hits and three earned runs in the sixth inning, facing eight batters.
"Two good innings early, and then he missed locations," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's basically what we saw."
"It's a wedge or an iron, depending on conditions." -- Upton, on his estimated 451-foot home run
"If you don't make pitches and stay in locations, you have a chance of getting beat up a little bit. They're good. They're effective, but they can be pitched to. We've seen it. We face them every year." -- Hurdle, on the Tigers' lineup
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Nicasio threw 94 pitches in his three innings of work. Only 17 pitchers in Major League history have thrown more pitches in a start of three innings or fewer. More >
Upton's home run was his 17th estimated at 450 feet or longer since the start of the 2009 season, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Only Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (29) has hit more.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: The home-and-home series between the Pirates and Tigers moves to Pittsburgh for the final two, beginning with Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET start. The Pirates will send Ryan Vogelsong to the mound for a spot start in place of Francisco Liriano, who was scratched with hamstring discomfort. Vogelsong pitched two innings of relief on Friday at Cincinnati.
Tigers:Shane Greene, who was originally supposed to pitch Monday's series opener in Detroit, instead goes Wednesday night for his first start of the season. Greene won the fifth spot in the rotation with a stellar spring, but his only appearance so far this season was an 11th-inning save on Opening Day.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.