DETROIT -- Josh Bell's two-run home run and Adam Frazier's two-run double highlighted an early Pirates outburst Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park, sending Pittsburgh to a 7-5 win over the Tigers.
"I just wanted to do damage to something," said Bell, who is second on the team in home runs (20) and RBIs (62). "It was up and it was right there for me, so I just put a good swing on it."
The win drew the Pirates back within three games of the Cubs, who were off Thursday, in the National League Central.
The Pirates took three of four in the home-and-home series, splitting the two games in Detroit. A day after Justin Verlander shut them down with eight innings of one-hit ball, the Buccos took out their frustrations on Drew VerHagen (0-2), making his second start in place of injured Michael Fulmer. Pittsburgh racked up nine hits over his 3 2/3 innings, supporting Gerrit Cole (10-8) through eight innings and seven strikeouts for his third win in his past four starts and his seventh consecutive road victory.
"I thought we'd get to Cole early the way we started out," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Cole settled in, and they got to VerHagen."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Off goes Frazier: Credit Frazier for setting the tone for the Pirates from the second at-bat of the game, challenging Tigers left fielder Justin Upton twice. Frazier stretched his line drive off the left-field wall into a triple, charging around second base and catching Upton by surprise. Two batters later, he tested Upton again by tagging up on Bell's fly ball to left, scoring fairly easily.
For whom the Bell tolls: A day after Bell provided Pittsburgh with its only hit off Verlander, he delivered the crushing shot off VerHagen, jumping on a first-pitch fastball and sending it an estimated 437 feet to right field for his 20th homer of the year and a 4-2 Pirates lead.
"The funny thing was [bench coach Tom] Prince, two seconds before [Bell] hit it, goes, 'Twenty [home runs] and 62 [RBIs],'" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "And I went, 'What?' I turned around, and he hit it. I went, 'Holy cow.' You know, we do that kind of stuff all the time. It never works."
"It really started with Dave Winfield at the Futures Game a couple years ago. He said, 'Average comes first, and the power will come after you make it to the big leagues. Just get there first, and the power will come.'" -- Bell, on turning his power potential into results at the Major League level
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Nicholas Castellanos' two-run triple in the first inning was his ninth of the season, extending his American League lead. He's trying to become the fourth Tiger in the past 60 years to lead the league in triples. Austin Jackson won back-to-back triples titles in 2011-12, Curtis Granderson did so in 2007-08, and Jake Wood led the league in 1961. More >
The Tigers gained a big second-inning out for a reeling VerHagen by challenging first-base umpire Larry Vanover's call that Sean Rodriguez beat VerHagen's pickoff throw to first base. After a 47-second review, replay officials concluded that Jose Cabrera applied the tag before Rodriguez could touch the bag, ending a second-inning threat.
Ausmus tried to get another out on review an inning later, challenging David Freese's infield single by arguing Castellanos' throw beat Freese. After a 57-second review, the safe call stood.
The Bucs turned the tables in the fifth inning, challenging an out call at first base on a Gregory Polanco grounder that deflected off Cabrera's glove. A 52-second review showed Polanco hit the bag ahead of Cabrera's throw to Warwick Saupold, overturning the call and earning Polanco an infield single.
One more Pirates challenge took a look at a James McCann infield single in the seventh inning. A 48-second review showed that first baseman Bell kept his foot in contact with the bag and received the throw before McCann hit the base, overturning the original safe call.
Pirates: For the first time since June 2011, the Pirates will head to Toronto for a three-game set at Rogers Centre that begins Friday at 7:07 p.m. EDT. Jameson Taillon (6-5, 4.60 ERA), who will face the Blue Jays for the first time, has a 1.93 ERA in five career Interleague starts.
Tigers: Detroit opens up a three-game series against the Twins at Comerica Park with a 7:10 p.m. ET game Friday. Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 6.62 ERA) starts for the Tigers looking to avenge a five-homer defeat at Baltimore in his last start.
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