PITTSBURGH - Rick Porcello made the most of his first opportunity to bat in the big leagues. His pitching was pretty good too.
Porcello threw seven crisp innings and had a pair of RBI singles for his first major league hits, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night.
"Pitching is always the first priority, but it was fun to get a couple of hits," Porcello said.
The 20-year-old rookie's impressive night came in front of an audience more focused on Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit than on the baseball game. The crowd of 18,369 erupted twice in the late innings after Penguins center Max Talbot's two second-period goals in the 2-1 win over the Red Wings.
Placido Polanco went 4-for-4 for AL Central-leading Detroit, which has won six of eight. Porcello (7-4) allowed one run and six hits.
Porcello became the first Tigers pitcher with a multihit game since Jeff Weaver had two hits on June 23, 2002, against Florida. The right-hander also was the first Detroit pitcher to collect more than one RBI in a game since Joe Coleman drove in three on Sept. 21, 1972, at Boston, the season before the designated hitter was adopted by the AL.
"I told [Leyland] before the game that I was a good hitter in high school, but that was mainly so he wouldn't pinch hit for me early," Porcello said.
Porcello drove in Magglio Ordonez with a two-out single off Ian Snell (1-7) in the second inning. Ordonez led off with a base hit, stole second and moved to third on Ramon Santiago's single.
Porcello struck again with two outs in the sixth. Snell intentionally walked Santiago to put runners on first and second before his counterpart pulled a pitch down the right-field line for a 2-0 lead.
"He's just an athlete, one of those special guys," Leyland said of Porcello. "He's 20 years old and succeeding in the big leagues, and he's just a baby."