PITTSBURGH (AP) – Edinson Volquez allowed two runs over six innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on the Detroit Tigers early in a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Volquez (10-7) struck out five and walked two against five hits to improve to 6-1 in his last seven decisions.
Travis Snider went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Pirates. Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis added RBI doubles and Jordy Mercer chipped in a run-scoring single. Mark Melancon worked out of a two-on, one-out jam for his 22nd save.
Alex Avila hit his ninth homer of the season for Detroit.
Robbie Ray (1-2) gave up four runs in five-plus innings while making a spot start for the weary Tigers. Detroit has lost six of seven as it battles surging Kansas City for the lead in the AL Central.
The Pirates signed Volquez to a one-year deal worth $5 million in the offseason. At the moment, it looks like a bargain. While the top end of Pittsburgh’s rotation has struggled to stay healthy, Volquez has been one of the few constants.
He hasn’t missed a start and has been the team’s best starter over the last six weeks as the Pirates have climbed back into the thick of the playoff hunt.
The right-hander was shaky early. Ian Kinsler drove home Ezequiel Career with an RBI-single in the first and Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to put runners at the corners with one out. Victor Martinez smashed a grounder up the middle that Volquez somehow grabbed with his glove while reaching behind his back. Kinsler was tagged out in a rundown between third and home and the big inning was avoided.
It was the only reprieve Volquez needed. Pittsburgh’s offense, which broke out of a weekend slump by pounding the Tigers for 11 runs in a win on Monday, responded yet again. Sanchez and Snider delivered consecutive RBI doubles in the second off Roy to put the Pirates in front.
Mercer drove home Josh Harrison in the third to make it 3-1. Avila hit a long home run to center to pull Detroit within one but pinch hitter Ike Davis doubled to the gap in right-center to score Starling Marte and push the lead to 4-2.