Doubleheader split

Skenes dominant on birthday as Pirates take Game 2

Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen connects for a three-run home run during the third inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday in Detroit. AP photo

DETROIT — Paul Skenes struck out nine and earned his second career victory and the Pittsburgh Pirates salvaged a doubleheader split with a 10-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.

Skenes (2-0), making his fourth major league start, gave up two runs and three hits in six innings. Skenes has 30 strikeouts in 22 innings and a 2.45 ERA.

Skenes doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but he was looking forward to dinner on his 22nd birthday.

“I heard we’ve got Chick-fil-A on the plane,” he said. “I’ll be crushing some of that.”

Skenes handled the Tigers with not only his fastballs, which regularly registered at 98 and 99 mph, but his “splinker.” He got a majority of his strikeouts with the two-seam fastball, which registered as a splitter on the scoreboard.

Pirates starting pitcher Paul Skenes throws during the first inning of Game 2. AP photo

“It was the pitch he used the most,” manager Derek Shelton said. “He did a really good job. He got some at-bats that were extended. The most impressive thing was he still finished hitters.”

Andrew McCutchen had a three-run homer in the third inning for his 1,600th career hit. McCutchen had three hits and a walk while driving in four runs. Nick Gonzales also had three hits, including a solo homer.

Tigers starter Keider Montero (0-1), making his major league debut, gave up four runs and five hits while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. Montero got the promotion from Triple-A Toledo earlier in the day.

Matt Vierling hit his fourth homer in three games for Detroit, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

“Our at-bats were pretty good early,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We made him work a ton. It looked like we had a couple of opportunities to chase him early. His split, or whatever he calls it, was really good. It’s really effective and really impactful.”

McCutchen’s homer off Montero’s curveball gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. Gonzales homered in the fourth. The Pirates added six runs over the final four innings.

They have scored six or more runs in all of Skenes’ starts.

“Obviously nice to pitch with run support,” he said.

In the opener, Vierling had a three-run homer and drove in four runs in Detroit’s 8-0 victory. Tarik Skubal bounced back from his only loss this season by holding the Pirates to three singles and a walk in seven innings.


Pirates: Left-hander Martin Perez (groin) was placed on the 15-day injured list and catcher Joey Bart (thumb) was placed on the 10-day IL. Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes was activated from the 10-day IL and went 0-for-2 in the opener. Catcher Grant Koch walked once and struck out three times in his major league debut after getting called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Tigers: Outfielder Kerry Carpenter (spine) was placed on the 10-day IL. Outfielder Akil Baddoo was recalled from Triple-A Toledo and drove in a run in the second game.


Pirates: Left-hander Bailey Falter (3-2, 3.55 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series at Toronto on Friday night.

Tigers: Right-hander Jack Flaherty will start the opener of a four-game series at Boston tonight.


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