Resurgent right-hander A.J. Burnett aims for a seventh straight win and a ninth straight start without a loss tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game interleague series with the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park.
The 35-year-old Arkansas native, drummed out of New York after three inconsequential big-ticket seasons with the Yankees, is unbeaten since a 2 2/3-inning thrashing by the St. Louis Cardinals on May 2.
He got no-decisions in his subsequent two starts against Washington and Houston, then began a six-start win streak with a 4-3 win against the Tigers in Detroit on May 19.
Burnett allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings of that victory, walking three batters. He's gone on to beat the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati twice, Kansas City and Cleveland while lowering his season earned run average to 3.52 in 69 innings.
He's unbeaten at PNC Park in the initial two months of 2012, winning four decisions in six starts with a 1.27 ERA across 42 2/3 innings.
For the Tigers, right-hander Doug Fister goes for a second straight win after opening the season with three losses in six starts.
He earned win No. 1 with a six-inning gem on June 16 against Colorado, tossing six innings of scoreless, three-hit ball with a walk and six strikeouts in Detroit's 4-1 defeat of the Rockies.
Fister won 11 games in 32 outings last season while splitting time between Seattle and Detroit, including eight victories in nine decisions with the Tigers after a six-player trade on July 30.
The 28-year-old Californian is 0-2 in four road starts in 2012.
On Thursday in Detroit, Quintin Berry hit a bases-loaded, RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning and the Tigers edged the Cardinals, 2-1, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
After singles by Ramon Santiago and Jhonny Peralta, Victor Marte (0-1) hit Austin Jackson with a pitch, loading the bases with one out. Berry then slapped a grounder up the middle to plate the deciding run.
"He's been fantastic for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's done a great job."
Joaquin Benoit (1-1) stranded a pair of runners in the top of the 10th to earn the victory and Prince Fielder hit a fourth-inning homer for the Tigers, winners in nine of their last 13 games.
Detroit starter Jacob Turner, called up prior to the game, made his season debut and allowed just one run on four hits and five walks with three strikeouts over five innings.
In Pittsburgh, Rod Barajas and Garrett Jones each hit a two-run home run as the Pirates clobbered the Minnesota Twins, 9-1, in the rubber match of a three-game interleague set.
Andrew McCutchen finished a homer short of the cycle as he went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, three RBI and two runs scored for the Pirates, who have won four of their last five.
James McDonald (6-3) threw his first career complete game as he gave up just one run on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. In his 14 starts this season, he has never given up more than three runs and lowered his earned run average to 2.19.
Detroit has won 17 of 30 interleague games with the Pirates, including six of the last nine since 2010 and two of three in a three-game set at Comerica Park in May.