- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ryan Vogelsong returned to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal during the offseason, and entered spring training as the fifth starter. Juan Nicasio’s strong spring bumped Vogelsong to the bullpen by the end of March.

However, when Francisco Liriano felt discomfort in his hamstring during a bullpen session earlier this week, the Pirates scratched him and tabbed Vogelsong for a spot start.

Vogelsong gave up one run and four hits over five innings in his first start as a Pirate in 12 years, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a grand slam in the sixth to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 7-3 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

“I didn’t really have to think too much which helped,” Vogelsong said. “It makes the game a bit easier when you’re pretty confident with all four pitches.”

Vogelsong admitted he thought about starting once again in a Pittsburgh uniform, but it was “business as usual” once the game started. He was crisp from the first inning on and his fastball frequently hit 94 mph.

The only run Vogelsong gave up came on Ian Kinsler’s home run in the fourth. He struck out five and walked none.

After 66 pitches, manager Clint Hurdle thought it was best for the team to go to the bullpen.

Arquimedes Caminero entered with a 2-1 lead and, after retiring the first two hitters he faced, loaded the bases. Saltalamacchia connected with a cutter for his 100th career home run.

“I made a mistake and I just paid for it,” Caminero said.

Caminero (0-2) was charged with four runs, three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.

Saltalamacchia joked his milestone home run only means he’s been around for awhile, and was just glad to contribute to a victory.

“The best thing about it is that it helped the team win,” Saltalamacchia said, “helped us establish a lead. That’s the most important thing.”

Shane Greene (1-0) pitched six strong innings in his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a damaged artery last August. He gave up two runs and three hits.

The Pirates lost for the fourth time in five games since starting the season with four wins.

This was also the first time Vogelsong faced the Tigers since Game 3 of the 2012 World Series when he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the San Francisco Giants in a win at Detroit. The Giants swept the series in four games.

The Pirates scored both their runs off Greene in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk to Francisco Cervelli and a fielder’s choice grounder by Gregory Polanco. But Greene recovered to allow only a hit and a walk over his next five innings.

“He got back in the strike zone with good late movement,” Hurdle said. “The sinker and the slider played.”

Andrew McCutchen’s RBI double in the eighth cut Detroit’s lead to 5-3 but the Tigers responded with a pair of insurance runs in the ninth.


Tigers: CF Cameron Maybin (broken right wrist), whose rehab assignment was moved from Single-A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, will be evaluated Saturday by team doctors. … RHP Alex Wilson (right rotator cuff capsulitis) pitched two-thirds of an inning for Toledo on Wednesday night and is scheduled to pitch again Thursday before being evaluated by team doctors Friday.

Pirates: Liriano said his hamstring was feeling better Wednesday and he is confident he will avoid a stint on the disabled list. … Reliever Jared Hughes (strained left lat) threw live batting practice Wednesday at extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla., and is getting closer to beginning a rehab assignment. … 3B Jung Ho Kang (recovering from reconstructive left knee surgery) is now running the bases without restriction at extended spring training. … Rookie C Elias Diaz (strained right elbow) will get a second opinion and there is concern he may need season-ending Tommy John ligament transplant surgery.


The Pirates designated OF/1B Michael Morse for assignment before the game to clear a roster spot for reliever AJ Schugel, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis. Morse was 0-for-8 in six games this season.


Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 0.00 ERA) faces Gerrit Cole (0-1, 5.79) on Thursday in the finale of the two-game series. Signed to a five-year, $110-million contract as a free agent in the offseason, Zimmerman pitched seven shutout innings last Friday to beat the New York Yankees in his Tigers debut. Cole lost his season debut last Saturday at Cincinnati as he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.

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