DETROIT (AP) – Neil Walker had a long day. He wishes it could have kept going.
Walker drove in the go-ahead run in Pittsburgh’s 14-inning win over the Tigers in the early moments of Wednesday morning, then he had a pair of homers among his four hits as the Pirates beat Detroit 9-3 later that night.
“We’ve got a day game tomorrow, so there’s not much I can do tonight,” he said. “But you certainly celebrate a day like this in your mind.”
Walker came into the game hitting .259 with four homers, numbers that he hated seeing on scoreboards.
“I’m not a huge home-run guy, and I know that,” he said. “But my job is to be a big part of our offense and produce runs, and I haven’t been doing that. Maybe this will get something started.”
Walker’s first homer started a five-run third inning, and his second was one of the three that Pittsburgh hit off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning.
Chamberlain, who was taken out with two outs in the inning, was booed as he left the mound.
“I can’t be mad, I would have booed me too,” said the Tigers’ set-up man, who has an 18.00 ERA in his last six outings, having allowed four homers in four innings.
The Pirates finished with 21 hits, their most since May 13, 2004 in Colorado.
“We did a great job of managing our at-bats today,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “Walk started us this morning, and it kept going all night.”
A.J. Burnett (7-3) got the easy win, giving up two runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
“When you get that many runs, you just want to get ahead in the count,” said Burnett, who threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of the 29 batters he faced. “It’s a lot easier pitching from 0-1.”
Alfredo Simon (7-5) took the loss, allowing six runs on a career-high 15 hits in 5 2-3 innings. The 15 hits were the most allowed by a Tigers starter since Scott Sanders allowed 16 on April 14, 1998.
“He didn’t have his command, and he was scuffling to get outs,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “The silver lining is that he gave us some innings on a day when we really needed innings.”
Detroit took the lead on Nick Castellanos’ RBI single in the second, thanks to the Pirates leaving three runners on in the first two innings, but they broke through in a big way in the third.
Josh Harrison started the inning with a single, and Walker followed with a homer just inside the right-field foul pole. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single, and Pedro Alvarez moved him to third with a one-out double.
McCutchen scored on Francisco Cervelli’s groundout, Alvarez came home on Gregory Polanco’s RBI single, and after a wild pitch, Jose Iglesias’s throwing error allowed Polanco to score Pittsburgh’s fifth run.
“Simon’s a good pitcher, and he had done a nice job getting out of a couple jams, but we finally got to him in a big way,” Hurdle said. “It was one of those things where once you break through, it just starts rolling.”
Simon was pulled after giving up his 15th hit, but Walker made it 6-1 by scoring on Al Alburquerque’s wild pitch. The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the sixth on Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI groundout.
Walker, Starling Marte and Alvarez homered off Chamberlain in the eighth to make it 9-2. James McCann homered in the bottom of the ninth to finish the scoring.
Pirates: Walker needed treatment in the sixth inning after Miguel Cabrera accidentally hit him in the face as he reached for a wild throw, but was able to stay in the game. “I wasn’t really hurt,” Walker said. “Miggy just knocked my helmet over my eyes and nose and I wasn’t sure where I was, mainly because I couldn’t see.” . OF Corey Hart (shoulder) went 1-4 in his first rehab start with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Tigers: C Alex Avila is hitting .313 in five rehab games with Triple-A Toledo and caught most of Wednesday’s loss to Durham. Avila could rejoin the Tigers as soon as this weekend and is expected to share time with McCann.
The teams finish the three-game series Thursday afternoon, with Detroit’s Kyle Ryan (1-1, 4.56) facing Francisco Liriano (4-6, 3.21). Ryan warmed up briefly during Tuesday night’s marathon, but the Tigers didn’t end up needing him. Liriano has faced the Tigers 26 times, including 19 starts, but is 1-9 in his last 14 appearances.
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