PITTSBURGH (AP) — A.J. Burnett pitched six shutout innings to win his seventh consecutive start and the Pittsburgh Pirates won for the fifth time in six games, 4-1 over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Burnett (8-2) allowed two hits and three walks and struck out four to extend his streak of starts that resulted in victories to the longest for a Pirates pitcher in 38 years. Doc Ellis won eight consecutive outings in 1974.
Burnett matched his career high by winning a seventh consecutive decision.
Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-4 to improve his batting average to .346 and Rod Barajas added two hits for the Pirates (37-32), who matched a season high by going five games over .500.
Ramon Santiago had an RBI double for the Tigers, who had won four of five. Detroit missed a chance to move back to .500 for the first time since being 18-18 on May 15.
The crowd of 37,965 was Pittsburgh’s fifth sellout of the season. The city is beginning to warm to a team that has won 15 of its past 19 home games and began the day within two games of the first-place Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.
Detroit managed a mere three baserunners against Burnett over the first five innings but the first two batters of the sixth reached when Austin Jackson singled and Quintin Berry walked.
Slugger Miguel Cabrera worked Burnett into a full count but grounded into a double play on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
Burnett improved to 5-0 at home this season, allowing six earned runs in 48 2-3 innings at PNC Park (1.11 ERA).
Pittsburgh has won 10 of its past 12 games against AL teams, allowing an average of less than three runs over that time.
Tony Watson struck out Jackson to end the seventh, Jason Grilli worked a perfect eighth and Joel Hanrahan had two strikeouts in retiring the side in the ninth for his 18th save in 20 opportunities.
The first three Pirates had hits against Tigers starter Doug Fister. Neil Walker followed Alex Presley’s leadoff double with an RBI single, and Walker scored when Garrett Jones grounded into a double play.
The Pirates added two unearned runs in the second when Detroit mangled fielding Burnett’s sacrifice bunt attempt.
Pedro Alvarez and Barajas led off the inning with consecutive singles. With one out, Burnett — who broke an orbital bone during a bunting competition in spring training — laid down an attempted sacrifice.
Fister fielded the ball and tried for the lead runner at third. His throw sailed into left field, where Delmon Young couldn’t handle it cleanly. Two errors were charged on the play in which two Pittsburgh runs were scored.
Detroit scored in the seventh when Jhonny Peralta and Santiago hit consecutive doubles off reliever Jared Hughes.
The run allowed the Tigers to extend their club record streak of not being shut out to 138 games.
Coming off his first win of the season, Fister (1-4) was charged with two earned runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. He had seven strikeouts.
Notes: According to STATS LLC, Giants RHP Matt Cain is the only other pitcher in the majors this season to win at least seven straight starts. Cain has a current streak of eight wins in as many outings. … Burnett won seven consecutive decisions July 19-Aug. 19, 2005, as a member of the Florida Marlins. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland said RHP Jose Valverde (wrist) was feeling “much better” Friday but that the closer still was not 100 percent. Valverde, who has not pitched since June 15, was to play catch Saturday. … RHP Max Scherzer starts for the Tigers on Saturday against RHP Brad Lincoln. Scherzer had 15 strikeouts in a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh May 20.
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