|Pirates aim to bounce back vs. Tigers|
Three weeks after the Pittsburgh Pirates opened the season with a three-game sweep of the Tigers in the bitter cold in Detroit, the teams are set to meet for another three-game set beginning Tuesday at PNC Park.
Both clubs, who had a day off Monday, have had some twists and turns in the three weeks since that earlier series.
Pittsburgh used the three wins to launch into an 11-4 start that had the Pirates sitting atop the National League Central. Then came a 1-6 swoon, including getting swept in a four-game series at Philadelphia over the weekend.
The Pirates (12-10) have fallen to third in the National League Central.
"We had a rough week. We need to take a day off and figure it out, and show up ready to play at home," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, whose team was held to five runs in the four-game sweep and has scored two runs or fewer in eight of its past 10 games.
"We haven't performed well -- I think it's the last 10 games -- for a while now. Two games we've performed well offensively; the other eight have been a challenge."
Pittsburgh piled up 22 runs in the season-opening series against the Tigers, a series that had two postponements because of poor weather and a subsequent doubleheader.
Detroit, meanwhile, continued to struggle after that opening series en route to a 4-9 start. Since then, though, the Tigers have gathered some steam.
They just concluded a 5-3 homestand, its first winning record for a stretch of eight or more home games since last June into July.
"(We'd) like to be 8-0. Everybody would," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But our guys are playing."
The Tigers (9-11), like Pittsburgh, are third in their division, the American League Central.
In the series opener Tuesday, Detroit right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 7.71 ERA) gets another shot at the Pirates after getting a no-decision on Opening Day. He will face Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl (2-1, 4.57 ERA).
In his earlier start against the Pirates, Zimmermann gave up four runs and six hits in six innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts.
He got his first win Thursday during the Tigers' recent surge, allowing four runs and seven hits -- three of them homers -- with two walks and seven strikeouts, in 5 1/3 innings in a 13-8 win against Baltimore.
In five career appearances against Pittsburgh, Zimmermann is 1-3 with a 4.35 ERA. In three career starts at PNC Park, he is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA.
Kuhl will be making his fifth start of the season. He picked up one of the few recent Pirates wins when he allowed one run in six innings in a 10-2 win Wednesday against Colorado.
"Just to go out there, execute my pitches and have everything working, it just feels great," Kuhl said after what was his longest start and first quality start of the season.
Kuhl is 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against Detroit, including a win in the season-opening series, when he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-6 win.