DETROIT -- Lefty Jonathon Niese checked Detroit on five hits over six innings while Matt Joyce, getting a chance to start because Pittsburgh needed a designated hitter in an American League park, keyed two early rallies with a single plus a double Monday to help the Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the Tigers.
Niese gave up a pair of solo home runs to J.D. Martinez, his first, in the fifth and Nick Castellanos, also his first, in the second while becoming the second softer-tossing southpaw in two games to beat Detroit.
CC Sabathia, who no longer hits 90 mph, earned a win over the Tigers for the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Niese (1-0) struck out five while walking one and he only breached 90 mph a couple of times as he changed speeds and moved the ball around. He allowed two runs in the sixth, one on a fielder's choice groundout and the other on an RBI single by Martinez.
Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless seventh, Tony Watson the eighth and Mark Melancon picked up his third save in the ninth.
The Pirates chased Justin Verlander (0-1) with a one-out double and a single in the fifth as part of a 17-hit attack. Reliever Drew VerHagen gave up an RBI double to Gregory Polanco and an RBI single to Sean Rodriguez as Pittsburgh padded its lead to 7-1.
Pittsburgh pushed its lead to 5-1 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by John Jaso.
Castellanos' home run with two out in the second cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-1 but the Pirates restored their lead to 4-1 in the third with a sacrifice by Francisco Cervelli. Joyce doubled leading off and moved up on a groundout.
Pittsburgh forced Verlander to throw 37 pitches in the second inning. He ended with 111 pitches, allowing 10 hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Jordy Mercer grounded a two-run single up the middle in the second. Jaso doubled to open the game, went to third on a fly to center and scored when Joyce punched a one-out single through the left side.
NOTES: 1B John Jaso, Pittsburgh's leadoff hitter, doubled to left leading off the game and now has reached base safely in each of the first seven Pirates games. ... Rehabbing Tigers RHP Alex Wilson and OF Cameron Maybin each were moved from Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo on Monday. Maybin was to play Tuesday and Wilson to pitch after that as both are expected to be ready for Detroit within a week. ... Detroit C James McCann was errorless in his first 121 games entering Monday, the longest such streak by a rookie catcher in the majors since 1900. ... Pittsburgh closer RHP Mark Melancon (102 saves entering Monday) is one of four Pirates to have saved 100 or more games with the franchise.