DETROIT — Seven losses in their previous nine games notwithstanding, the Detroit Tigers still possess one of the best offenses in baseball. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, the power bats in the middle of the order, present the largest threat — and Martinez made good on it Wednesday night — but the bottom of the order chipped in, too.
Amid a slew of 12 Tigers hits at Comerica Park, the Pirates lost, 8-4, ending a four-game losing streak for Detroit that had forced the Tigers out of first place in the American League Central Division.
Pirates starter Vance Worley allowed five runs, but only three were earned, courtesy of a Jayson Nix error in the Tigers’ three-run fifth, but Worley gave up nine hits in 51⁄3 innings, including solo homers to Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos.
“There’s a couple counts where I got behind, had to throw some good pitches,” Worley said. “For the most part, that’s a good hitting ballclub.”
The start ended an impeccable four-start streak in which Worley (5-2) held opponents to three earned runs in 28 innings.
Martinez went 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Castellanos, Avila and Eugenio Suarez, the bottom three hitters in the Tigers lineup, combined to go 4 for 11 with three extra-base hits, three runs and three RBIs.
“This is a very good hitting ballclub that we’re playing, and you’ve got to make pitches,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And throughout the course of the night, we missed some locations, and they took advantage of them.”
Stolmy Pimentel allowed three runs in the seventh while giving up two hits and two walks, one intentional, without recording an out.
“He didn’t throw any strikes. Not enough quality strikes,” Hurdle said. “… You’re underneath games, you’ve got to find some innings and some outs from some other people.”
Tigers spot starter Buck Farmer made his major league debut Wednesday night, but he did more than that. He also made his third start above Class A, bypassing Class AAA entirely on his way to the majors.
“I don’t think it was something we over-prepared for by any means,” said Travis Snider, who hit his third homer in the past three games.
In five innings, Farmer allowed four runs, including a two-run homer, and six hits.
Pedro Alvarez lined a two-strike single to center with one out in the fourth. Jordy Mercer chopped a hit down the third-base line that resulted in an RBI triple. The play, which ended with a close tag at third, withstood a video review, meaning Snider had a runner on when he hit the first pitch out to right to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
“It’s nice to contribute, but, at the end of the day, this time of year, the focus still remains day to day and on the goal of winning ballgames and getting to the playoffs,” Snider said.
Detroit’s three-run fifth, which began with Avila’s homer, tied the score. Suarez singled. Ezequiel Carrera grounded a ball in the hole between first and second, drawing Nix to his left and away from second. He turned to try to get the lead runner, but his throw bounced away, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
“The three runs they scored in the fifth inning, I think if we handle the ball there a little bit better, we could have got out of there with less,” Hurdle said.
Ian Kinsler’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position for Cabrera, who hit a long sacrifice fly to the warning track that scored a run. Martinez’s single scored another as the Tigers tied the score, 4-4.
Castellanos took advantage of a hanging slider in the sixth, driving it into the seats in left-center field for his ninth home run this season to give Detroit a 5-4 lead.
In addition to Nix’s error, Starling Marte let a ball past him in center when he dived for what turned into a triple. Gregory Polanco dropped a long fly ball — also ruled a triple — and lost another in the lights. Against any team, those mistakes sting, let alone against the Tigers offense.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 13, 2014 12:00 AM