PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Chad Kuhl pitched six solid innings and drove in two runs, while Andrew McCutchen homered as the Pirates continued to roll with a 6-3 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates have won five of their last six games following a skid in which they lost six of seven. Tuesday's victory, their third straight, pulled them one game closer to .500 and 3 1/2 back of the National League Central-leading Cubs, who lost to the Giants on Tuesday.
"You're going to have your ups and downs. To talk about the fight, the young starting rotation, we're all going to fight," Kuhl said. "We're going to try to get better. Unfortunately it kind of dipped, and we're in the situation that we're in. We're not going to stop fighting. We're going to go 'til the end."
Kuhl allowed three runs on five hits and struck out six over six innings. McCutchen started the Bucs' three-run fourth inning with his 23rd home run, and Kuhl finished it with a two-run single.
Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd pitched into the fifth, but he couldn't record an out and exited after allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits. Detroit rallied in the sixth against Kuhl, cutting Pittsburgh's lead in half. Jim Adduci doubled in a run, Ian Kinsler scored on a wild pitch and Miguel Cabrera smacked a sacrifice fly to right field.
With setup man Juan Nicasio unavailable, the Pirates bridged the gap to closer Felipe Rivero with right-handers A.J. Schugel and George Kontos, the former called up from Triple-A for good a month ago, and the latter claimed off waivers on Saturday. They retired all six batters they faced and turned the game over to Rivero.
After blowing his first save of the season in a 41-pitch outing on Sunday, Rivero told manager Clint Hurdle he wanted the ball on Tuesday, and he bounced back with a perfect ninth inning.
"We trust the man when he tells you he feels good," Hurdle said. "By the show of velocity and the stuff he threw tonight, he looked good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pitchers who rake: With two out and the bases loaded in the fourth, Kuhl came to the plate. Boyd began the at-bat with a 73.3-mph curveball, and Kuhl swung and missed badly. He wouldn't miss again, however. Boyd threw another curveball, and Kuhl popped it up to shallow left field. The ball dropped just behind shortstop Andrew Romine for a two-run single, Kuhl's second hit of the season and his first career RBIs, which gave the Bucs a 4-0 lead.
"I was selling out to a heater, if you couldn't tell. I got the slow curveball," Kuhl said, smiling. "I was fortunate enough to lock in. Got it again and stayed on it just a little bit better the second time."
Unforced error: The Pirates chased Boyd from the game with three straight singles to open the fifth. Reliever Edward Mujica got pinch-hitter Josh Bell to tap a grounder toward third base. But Tigers third baseman Nicholas Castellanos committed his 16th error, the second-highest total in the Majors behind only White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, rather than recording what likely would have been the first out. Two batters later, Jordy Mercer tacked on an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to right field.
"When he's going for weeks on end, we can kind of complement him, so to speak. That's how important he is. Against lefties, if we just stay within ourselves and find gaps, find holes, we're strong enough guys with good enough swings that if they're working, we're going to drive the ball." -- Pirates third baseman David Freese, on the importance of McCutchen to the lineup
"When you start the road trip winning four of five, you don't expect a road trip to end the way it did, so it's disappointing. But we're going to move on." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus
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Rivero's save was his first since July 20 and his 10th of the season, tying him with former Pirates closer Tony Watson for the team lead. This is the first time in club history, since saves became an official statistic in 1969, that Pittsburgh has had two left-handers record at least 10 saves in the same season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's only been done three times in Major League history: John Rocker (24) and Mike Remlinger (12) with the 2000 Braves, Mitch Williams (16) and Paul Assenmacher (10) with the 1990 Cubs, and Dave Righetti (25) and Lee Guetterman (13) with the 1989 Yankees.
SHORT STAY Jeimer Candelario was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo after logging his first hit with the Tigers -- a sixth-inning pinch-hit single off Kuhl. First-base coach Omar Vizquel pretended to hand the ball to Candelario before tossing it into the dugout for safekeeping. Shortstop Jose Iglesias will come off the bereavement list on Wednesday, prompting the roster move.
"I'm just grateful for the opportunity," Candelario said. "I was trying to make something happen. Whenever they need me, I will be there. You have to be ready for any situation."
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Right-hander Justin Verlander will take the mound Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Pirates as the series shifts to Comerica Park. Verlander is 28-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 40 career Interleague starts.
Pirates: Right-hander Ivan Nova will start against the Tigers on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Nova showed signs of breaking out of a rough stretch on Friday vs. the Padres, allowing four runs (one earned) over six efficient innings. The former Yankee owns an 8.25 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in three career appearances in Detroit.