Edinson Volquez was at his slickest Tuesday night when he made a blind, behind-the-back snag on a comebacker in the first inning that preserved a run.
Later in the evening he became the Pirates’ first 10-game winner of the season in 4-2 victory against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park.
Volquez got run support galore as the Pirates doubled five times and stole two bases on the way to victory.
The Pirates plated four runs off Robbie Ray, who was making the first road start of his career, then scored a fourth run in the sixth inning off reliever Al Alburquerque.
The Pirates improved to 64-55 with the win and wrapped up the eight-game homestand 5-3.
“We have become the team we have become by staying and playing in the moment, by taking care of now,” said manager Clint Hurdle prior to the game. “Not wasting opportunities today and that’s the way we’re best served. I know that’s the way. When we have the opportunity to add back players, that’s going to be great.”
The Tigers were put down in order in the seventh and eighth but threatened in the ninth with back-to-back hits off Mark Melancon. Torii Hunter came to the plate as the go-ahead run and popped out to right field, then Rajai Davis grounded out to third.
Volquez went six strong innings for the Pirates, giving up two runs off five hits, a pair of walks and five strikeouts.
Volquez entered the game going 5-1 in his last eight starts with a 2.22 ERA.
In his previous start against Miami last Thursday, he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
Ray finished after five-plus innings giving up four runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out five.
For a second straight night the Tigers capitalized early.
Ezequiel Carrera doubled to the Clemente Wall off Volquez and scored on a single by Ian Kinsler to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
But Volquez preserved a run when he backhanded a comebacker from Victor Martinez behind his back, spun around and threw to catcher Russell Martin, who tagged out Kinsler in a rundown.
He was visited briefly by the training staff, but stayed in the game.
Martin led off the second with a double to the notch and scored when Gaby Sanchez lined a double down the third-base line.
Travis Snider hit a playable ball into center field, but it split converging outfielders, and dropped, scoring Sanchez. It was ruled a double and the Pirates were up 2-1.
The Pirates tacked on another run in the third. Josh Harrison led off with — what else? — a double for the team’s fourth of the night. He was driven in by a sharp single down the middle by Jordy Mercer that gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
Alex Avila homered off Volquez to center field in the fourth to cut the Pirates lead to 3-2.
But Ike Davis delivered a pinch-hit double that drove in Starling Marte in the sixth to make it 4-2.
Volquez limited any damage that may have been done by Tigers cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera, holding him to a single and two walks, then Tony Watson entered in the eighth and struck him out swinging for his final plate appearance of the night.
After Justin Wilson put the Tigers down in order in the seventh, Watson delivered a 1-2-3 eighth against the heart of the order.
He put down Kinsler with a flyout to left, Cabrera with the strikeout, then Victor Martinez with a fly ball out to center.