PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates tore through Justin Verlander for five runs Monday night then finished off the Detroit Tigers 11-6 at PNC Park.
Verlander left the game with right shoulder soreness after throwing 40 first inning pitches as the Pirates batted around the order to go up 5-1.
The club plated three more off reliever Justin Miller, went back-to-back with two sixth inning home runs off Kevin Whelan, and added an 11th run in the eighth as they improved to 63-55.
Monday's high-scoring win was an improbable start to a tough stretch for the Pirates, scheduled to play 22 straight games against teams contending for the postseason.
The club's starting pitching has been holding up its end of the bargain just fine during the troublesome month that has seen Andrew McCutchen land on the disabled list, and Neil Walker absent from the lineup with lower back tightness -- placing a burden of run production on the lineup missing its stars.
"This is a challenging time, there's no doubt about that," manager Clint Hurdle said before to the game. "But I don't think we need to make any more of it than what we've got in our hands and that's what this team has done so well, is focus on today and (doing) everything we can to score one more run than the other team."
Instead, Starling Marte clubbed a bases clearing triple off Verlander. Travis Snider hit two home runs, and the club got back-to-back homers from Russell Martin and Ike Davis against Whelan in the sixth.
Jeff Locke gave up two first-inning hits and a walk as the Tigers went up 1-0 in the first on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera.
But the Pirates bailed Locke out quickly as the club scored five runs off four hits, two walks, and two Tigers errors, while forcing Verlander to throw 40 first inning pitches.
The club got a bases loaded RBI triple from Marte, an RBI from Snider who reached on an error and RBI single from Jayson Nix to go up 3-1.
The Tigers played a 19-inning game on Sunday and used eight different pitchers. Prior to Monday's game Hurdle didn't expect fatigue to be a factor for the Tigers.
"They've got a guy named Verlander on the mound which kind of makes it a different situation," said Hurdle. "He's more than capable of going out and throwing a whole boatload of innings. We need to challenge him. It would be advantageous if we can find a way we can get him out earlier than he'd like to be taken out."
It turned out to be the shortest outing of Verlander's career.
Verlander did not return to the game after the first, and was replaced by Miller, who had been promoted that afternoon from the team's Class AAA affiliate in Toledo.
The Tigers threatened in the second inning, putting two in scoring position before Rajai Davis lined out to left field.
Snider made the catch, then threw out Alex Avila at home.
The Tigers plated three runs in the sixth inning, chasing Locke from the game with the bases loaded.
Jared Hughes entered to minimize the damage and the Tigers scored just one on a groundout, sandwiched between two strikeouts.
Locke left the mound in the sixth with no outs. He gave up four earned runs on eight hits, four walks and one strikeout.
Davis drove in a pair of runs in the eighth for the Tigers off Casey Sadler before Tony Watson entered the game in the eighth with a runner on and two outs.
Davis was thrown out at home by Gregory Polanco to end the inning on a single by Cabrera to right field.
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