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Justin Verlander On The Mound Tonight As Tigers Begin 12-Game Homestand

(Sports Network) - In order for the Pittsburgh Pirates to end their five-game losing streak, they'll have to find a way to win against the American League. Tonight the team will kick off a 15-game journey through the Junior Circuit with the first of three straight games against the Detroit Tigers from Comerica Park.

The Pirates are a major league-worst 71-110 all-time in interleague play, but did take two of three meetings from Detroit last season at PNC Park. The Tigers have thrived against the National League, going 124-108, and beat Pittsburgh three times in the Steel City during the 2006 season.

Pittsburgh was just swept in three games at the hands of the Washington Nationals and dropped a 4-2 decision in Thursday's series finale. Zach Duke was dealt the loss and allowed three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits in five innings to fall to 3-7 on the season.

"We can't create runs, that's been our problem," Pirates manager John Russell said. "Until we start scoring some more runs, every pitch means something and our backs are against the wall too often."

Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata both drove in a run for the Pirates, who are just 9-22 as the guest this season and last in the National League Central standings, 11 1/2 games off the pace. The Buccos will also face the White Sox, Indians, Rangers and A's on the AL tour.

Pittsburgh will hand pitching duties over to Ross Ohlendorf tonight, and he is 0-3 with a 4.30 earned run average in seven starts this season. He hasn't recorded a decision in back-to-back outings and is coming off Sunday's 6-5 loss versus San Francisco. Ohlendorf did not factor in the outcome despite allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings of work.

The right-hander out of Princeton is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in two career games (one start) against the Tigers. He faced them June 14 of last season in a 6-3 victory at PNC Park and delivered six strong innings of one-run ball for the win.

The Tigers will also play 15 games in a row against the National League starting with Friday's opener of a 12-game homestand. They have lost three of their last four games and dropped the final two portions of a three-game set at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, including Thursday's 3-0 loss in the series finale.

Max Scherzer was solid through 7 1/3 innings for the Tigers, as he was reached for three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk despite suffering his sixth loss of the season (2-6). Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird provided the three hits for Detroit, which remained 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the top spot in the AL Central.

"I can't score any runs. This is the American League. I don't get a bat, I don't get to move anybody over," Scherzer said after the Tigers went 2-4 on a six-game trek. "You pay attention to the scoreboard because there's certain situations where you have to pitch to, but my job is to go out there and get hitters out."

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was 0-for-2 at the plate and entered the game hitting .359 with nine doubles, 11 homers and 34 runs batted in through 29 road tilts. Teammate Magglio Ordonez hasn't played since Sunday and is hampered with sore ribs. He is hitting .373 with 16 runs scored, four home runs and 18 RBI over his last 20 games dating back to May 13.

Detroit will take on the Pirates, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Mets and Braves on its expedition versus the National League. It will visit New York and Atlanta.

Justin Verlander put his personal two-game losing streak to rest his last time out and will try for another lengthy winning streak Friday night. Verlander had ripped off four straight winning starts until losing consecutive trips to the mound. He then bounced back with seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 triumph at Kansas City on Saturday.

Verlander scattered five hits, struck out four batters and issued three walks against the Royals to push his record to 6-4 and lower his earned run average to 3.65 in 12 starts. The right-hander, who is 4-2 in seven home starts this season, has never faced the Pirates in his career and is holding opposing hitters to a .212 batting average.

For more on this game, refer to Bless You Boys game preview.