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Pirates-Tigers Preview

AP - Sports

Although manager Clint Hurdle said his Pittsburgh Pirates would pitch carefully to Miguel Cabrera, they didn't need to in the opener of this series with the Detroit Tigers.

It may be time to put that plan in place in the second game.

Cabrera enjoyed success over the previous two seasons against Jeanmar Gomez, who gets the ball Tuesday night with the visiting Pirates unbeaten in his five starts.

Hurdle called the reigning AL MVP the best hitter in baseball Monday before Pittsburgh's 6-5 loss. The manager said he would take his chances with Prince Fielder if he had to walk Cabrera, who entered this series on a 12-game hitting streak while batting .435 with seven homers and 17 RBIs.

"You're going to pass on Cabrera more often that not, and take whatever comes your way with Fielder," Hurdle told the Pirates' official website.

Cabrera went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, marking the second time over the last three seasons he has struck out that many times. He went 6 for 24 with just one walk last season against the Pirates (31-20).

The slugger is 4 for 9 with two homers and a walk since the start of 2011 against Gomez (2-0, 2.75 ERA), who had been with Cleveland before joining Pittsburgh during the offseason. Gomez is 2-2 in five starts against the Tigers with a 7.82 ERA - his third-highest against any opponent.

The right-hander has yet to last past five innings in five starts since being promoted from the bullpen, but the efforts have been good enough for the Pirates to win all of them. He won his big-league debut in 2010 against Detroit (29-20), but owns a 13.50 ERA in three career starts at Comerica Park.

Jhonny Peralta is 2 for 9 against Gomez, but he's hitting .429 over an eight-game hitting streak after going 4 for 4 on Monday. It was Peralta's first four-hit game since June 4, 2010, for Cleveland.

"He's swinging a magic wand right now," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. "He can poke the bat out and get a hit. He can swing hard and get a hit. It's a lot of fun to play the game like that."

Detroit has won six of seven after handing Pittsburgh just its third loss in 13 games.

Pirates third baseman Brandon Inge, who played for the Tigers for over a decade and received an AL championship ring before Monday's contest, was a late addition to the starting lineup. Outfielder Starling Marte was removed shortly before the game because of migraine-like symptoms, and the ensuing shuffling of the lineup gave Inge his first chance to play at Comerica Park as a member of the visiting team.

Inge went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts as Pittsburgh struck out 15 times - 13 against Justin Verlander.

The Pirates will try to regroup against Rick Porcello (2-2, 6.28), who is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts against them.

Porcello is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA over his last five starts after going 0-2 with a 13.09 mark in his first three.

However, the right-hander may have taken a step back Thursday as he allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits over five innings, not getting a decision in a 7-6 win over Minnesota. He struck out two after totaling 24 over his previous four outings.

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