(Sports Network) - Tied for the fewest road wins among National League teams heading into the weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates try to reverse their fortunes tonight as they tangle with the Detroit Tigers and former skipper Jim Leyland in the second of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Last night the offense again failed to produce for the Pirates as they stumbled to a 6-2 setback in the series opener, marking the team's sixth consecutive loss and the seventh in the last eight outings overall. In addition to having the longest active losing streak in the majors, Pittsburgh is but 9-23 away from home in 2010 as well.
Andrew McCutchen accounted for a pair of doubles, knocked in a run and scored once himself for the Pirates, yet the team still finished with a total of just five hits. Ross Ohlendorf was handed his fourth loss in as many decisions after allowing six runs on 10 hits, while striking out six over the course of six innings.
Justin Verlander earned the win for the Tigers, the team remaining 4 1/2 games off the pace n the AL Central. Verlander permitted just two runs on four hits, although he did issue four walks and struck out only three over seven innings of action as the team snapped a brief two-game slide.
"He's got great stuff, but he wasn't locating the ball where he wanted to," said Leyland of his starter. "That was by his own admission cause he said afterwards he was having trouble locating. He was able to get some quick outs early and that saved him for later on."
Brennan Boesch and Ramon Santiago both registered home runs for the home team, helping to offset the fact that the first four batters in the Detroit lineup combined for six strikeouts and only two hits.
Brandon Inge and Alex Avila contributed with three hits apiece for Detroit, while reliever Jose Valverde came on for the ninth and tossed a scoreless frame to close the game. Valverde has now gone 24 outings without allowing a run, tossing 24 1/3 scoreless innings. His 0.36 earned run average is tops among all American League relievers.
Making his first-ever appearance against the Tigers tonight is Pittsburgh starting pitcher Paul Maholm. The six-year veteran managed to work his way back into the win column last Saturday, bringing a string of three winless outings, by giving up just two earned runs against San Francisco. The left- hander permitted just six hits over 6 1/3 innings and didn't walk a batter, but he also left with just a single strikeout.
Maholm has had some control issues so far this season, issuing 27 walks while fanning just 42 over the course of 73 1/3 innings of work.
As for Detroit, it will counter with right-hander Jeremy Bonderman, even though he has been winless in his last three outings.
Bonderman was beaten up for seven runs on 11 hits, while striking out only two in 5 2/3 innings against Kansas City on Sunday. Since allowing just two home runs over the course of his first nine appearances in 2010, Bonderman has permitted a total of three long balls in his last two games and watched his strikeout total for those two contests dwindle to a mere three over 13 2/3 innings as well.
Over the last six games, the Detroit pitching staff has been making things a bit difficult for the team, showing a collective 6.48 ERA which is the second- highest in all of baseball over the last week.
The Pirates continue to have their struggles against the American League, as they are a major league-worst 71-111 all-time in interleague play, but did take two of three meetings from Detroit last season at PNC Park. Conversely, the Tigers have feasted on the National League, going 125-108, and beat Pittsburgh three times in the Steel City during the 2006 campaign.
Even more impressive, the Tigers are a staggering 30-6 over their last 36 interleague games at home.