The Tigers had no problem getting runners on base. Getting them in was a different story.
Detroit was shut out for the second time in three games by Pittsburgh on Thursday night as Russell Martin hit a bases-loaded single off the left-center wall in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Pirates a 1-0 victory.
The Tigers left 11 runners on base in losing their third straight. Pirates starter Jeff Locke and five relievers combined on a nine-hitter with Bryan Morris (3-2) pitching a scoreless inning to finish.
"Baseball is always a hard game and tonight it was really hard," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's what I always say, on-base percentage is great but the biggest thing is you need to drive those guys on base in. We had a hard time with that tonight. We've had a hard time with that the last few days."
"Neil Walker opened the 11th for the Pirates with a sharp single to right off Luke Putkonen (1-1) and Andrew McCutchen walked. Gaby Sanchez loaded the bases by bouncing a single through the left side of the infield.
Martin then ripped a 2-1 pitch into the gap to give the Pirates (34-20) their 16th win in 20 games.
We played a helluva ballgame but lost," Leyland said. "That's all part of it. Sometimes the other team plays well, too. Give the Pirates credit. They pitched smart against us."
Martin came into the game having gone 4 for 29 in his previous eight games. However, he singled in the ninth inning and wound up with a multi-hit game.
Detroit starter Doug Fister struck out 12 in seven innings and allowed four hits. Miguel Cabrera hit two doubles for the Tigers, including the 400th of his career.
Fister came in with a 5.20 ERA in five May starts after going 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts in April.
"I felt like I was executing well," Fister said. "I was able to keep the ball down, move the ball in and out and make them hit the ball on the ground, which is the name of my game."
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta was ejected for the first time in his 11-year career, getting thumbed in the top of the fourth inning by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez for arguing a called third strike. Peralta went 0 for 2, ending his 10-game hitting streak.
"All I did was look back at the batter's box when I was walking out to my position to try to see where I had set up in the box," Peralta said. "I never said a word to him and he told me to go to my position. I waved my hand and he threw me out. I was surprised. I guess my day was going to come sooner or later but it was frustrating to have to watch the rest of the game when one hit could have won it."
Both teams failed to cash in on consecutive outstanding scoring opportunities in the middle innings.
Pittsburgh hit three singles in a row to start the fourth and Detroit had four consecutive singles to start the fifth.
Walker led off the Pirates' fourth with a single but was caught stealing at second base. McCutchen and Garrett Jones then singled to put runners on the corners but were stranded when Martin struck out and Travis Snider lined out.
In the Tigers' fifth, Matt Tuiasosopo and Bryan Pena hit back-to-back singles but Tuiasosopo was thrown out at home by Snider, the right fielder, while trying to score on Avasail Garcia's single.
Fister then singled to load the bases, but Omar Infante hit a grounder to third baseman Brandon Inge, who threw home to force Pena for the second out. Andy Dirks grounded out to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
Detroit missed more chances.
The Tigers had runners on first and second with one out in the sixth when Vin Mazzaro relieved Locke and struck out Tuiasosopo and got Pena to ground out.
Mazzaro escaped a first-and-third jam with one out in the seventh by getting Dirks to pop out and Cabrera to ground out.
After Infante doubled with two outs in the ninth, McCutchen, the center fielder, tracked down Dirks' drive to the gap in right-center to end the inning.
NOTES: Detroit RF Torii Hunter sat out with a bruised left elbow, which he injured Wednesday night when he was hit by a pitch from Morris. Hunter will miss games Friday and Saturday at Baltimore to attend his son's high school graduation in Texas, but expects to play Sunday against the Orioles. ...... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez was not at the ballpark Thursday after having dental surgery earlier in the day to remove two wisdom teeth. ... Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (7-0, 3.42) will face Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 3.94) in the opener of that three-game series.