Tigers rake at plate as Verlander baffles Bucs

Tigers rake at plate as Verlander baffles Bucs

DETROIT -- Two days after being blanked by the Pirates to begin the Interleague home-and-home series in Pittsburgh, the Tigers returned the favor at Comerica Park. Justin Verlander took a no-hit bid into the sixth before settling on eight innings of 1-hit ball in a 10-0 victory on Wednesday night.

While the Tigers ended a four-game losing streak, the Pirates missed a chance to gain further ground on the first-place Cubs, who lost earlier in the day to the Giants. Pittsburgh remains 3 1/2 games back in the National League Central.

Though Verlander (8-7) didn't have his best command, walking three batters and hitting another, he held the Bucs hitless until Josh Bell hit a ground ball just out of Nicholas Castellanos' reach at third base for a hustle double with two out in the sixth.

Verlander's dominant outing

"I guess I didn't really know [about the no-hitter] until the fourth," Bell said. "But I was out there just watching him work. He really commanded that fastball well, but he left that slider out a little for me. I was able to get the barrel to the ball and shoot it out there."

"[Verlander] was huge, and then the offense came on," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

Verlander had an early lead to protect thanks to Castellanos' first-inning RBI single, Andrew Romine's second-inning sacrifice fly and an Ian Kinsler solo homer, all off Pirates starter Ivan Nova (10-9). Castellanos' bases-clearing triple in the seventh and Kinsler's bases-clearing double an inning later put the game out of reach, as they combined for nine RBIs.

"It was a good day at the park for me, good day for everybody really," Castellanos said. "We all swung the bats well. We definitely needed it after two games in Pittsburgh where we really couldn't get anything going."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kinsler capitalizes: After three deep flyouts in two games at PNC Park, Kinsler, who will wear the nickname "Bootsie" on the back of his jersey for Players Weekend, returned home and found the left-field fence more friendly at Comerica Park. He turned on an inside fastball from Nova and sent it out for his 11th home run of the season and a 3-0 lead.

Kinsler's solo home run

Castellanos clears bases: Though Verlander held down the Pirates' offense, Nova kept the game within reach until back-to-back walks and a fastball off Miguel Cabrera's forearm loaded the bases for Castellanos, whose AL-leading eighth triple of the season cleared the bases for a 6-0 lead in the seventh.

Castellanos' three-run triple

"This park lends itself to triples," Ausmus said. "That plays into it. But when he's underway, he runs well. When he hits a ball into the right-center-field gap and he breaks stride, I can see why he gets triples."

QUOTABLES
"Balls hit like that off of lefties are tough, because they're slicing away from you. I was mad when it hit off the end of my glove, mad enough that I forgot there was a runner still. But it is what it is." -- Castellanos, on the Pirates' first hit off Verlander, Bell's hard-hit liner that glanced off his glove

"He still always has a ground ball in his pocket. When you look at him, that's what you think. So I may have asked him to do something that maybe he didn't have the weaponry to do at that particular time, based on pitch count. And I don't know if I'd have had a fistfight out there if I'd gone and taken him out. It wasn't about all that, it was just giving him a chance to get out of it." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on leaving Nova in to face the jam in the seventh that resulted in Castellanos' triple

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Verlander improved to 29-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 41 career Interleague starts. He has averaged just under seven innings per start against the National League.

WHAT'S NEXT
Pirates: Right-hander Gerrit Cole (9-8, 4.00 ERA) will be on the mound at 1:10 p.m. ET on Thursday as the Pirates conclude a four-game home-and-home set with the Tigers at Comerica Park. Cole, who is riding a streak of six straight quality starts, is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers.

Tigers: Right-hander Drew VerHagen (0-1, 5.00) will make his second start in place of the injured Michael Fulmer as the series against the Pirates wraps up on Thursday afternoon. VerHagen tossed five innings of two-run ball in a no-decision on Saturday against the Orioles at Camden Yards.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit and covered the Pirates on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.