Curtis Granderson singled and scored to start the third, then protected a one-run lead by making an excellent leaping catch of Ronny Paulino's line drive into the left-center gap to end the eighth with the potential tying run on third.
Granderson works daily with a former Gold Glove outfielder who has made numerous exceptional catches in Pittsburgh for Leyland, Tigers coach Andy Van Slyke. As Granderson said, "It's starting to turn into some good stuff."
"I was kind of excited when he caught that ball," said reliever Joel Zumaya, who rooms with Granderson on the road. "I owe him a steak dinner."
Leyland doesn't have to go far for his home cooking while managing in PNC Park for the first time against the team that gave him his first big league managerial job in 1986.
Leyland's house is crowded by friends and family members, and he said, "It's great when it's happening, but I'll be glad when it's over."
"Leyland, we wanted to win for him," Zumaya said. "He kind of busted on us, saying, `Hey we're going back to my old place, we'd better kick their rear ends.' It was a little tough, we were a little shaky, but we came out victorious."
Leyland drew nearly all cheers during the pregame introductions, but joked, "Some of the people booing me were the ones I left tickets for."
The Tigers are playing well no matter the locale, winning seven in a row and 13 in 14 games to match the same 80-game record of one of the best teams in club history. They are 30 games above .500 at 55-25, the same record as the 1984 World Series championship team that started 35-5.
That they are thriving following five successive seasons of 90 or more losses, and with the manager who wanted to return as Pittsburgh's skipper last fall but was passed over for Jim Tracy, only makes it worse for the Pirates. They have lost 15 of 17 to fall to 27 games under .500.
The Pirates are on pace for a 14th consecutive losing season and, in a quirky twist, each of the three full-season managers during that streak were on the Tigers' bench: Leyland (1986-96) and coaches Gene Lamont (1997-2000) and Lloyd McClendon (2001-05).
Worse still for the Pirates: Chris Shelton homered against the club that gave him away in the Rule 5 draft three years ago, following Marcus Thames' two-run shot in the second against Kip Wells with his 15th homer.
"He's been struggling a little bit, but the ball was flying -- I didn't think at first it was going to go out," Leyland said.
The Pirates inexplicably left Shelton unprotected in a draft in which they drew laughter from baseball executives at the 2003 winter meetings by having five of the first six players drafted.
Wells (0-3), the major league leader with 18 losses last season, made a third consecutive poor start since missing the first 2 1/2 months of the season following surgery to repair a blocked artery. He was roughed up for seven runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings, allowing two homers, a triple, hitting a batter and throwing one of three Pirates wild pitches.
Wells, who has long baffled the Pirates with his inability to win despite having possessing excellent talent, frustrated them again during his 21st loss in 29 decisions the last two seasons. He was ahead in the count to both Thames (0-and-2) and Shelton (0-and-1) only to leave hittable pitches over the plate.
"He was missing with his pitches," Tracy said. "He'd get ahead of the count, get guys to two strikes but couldn't finish them off. He couldn't locate his pitches."
The Tigers gave Rogers a six-run lead, but he was lifted during a three-run Pirates fifth keyed by Sean Casey's two-run triple and didn't last long enough to get the victory. Roman Colon (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the decision. Zumaya's throwing error on what looked to be an inning-ending Mike Edwards grounder in the eighth led to Jose Hernandez's RBI triple, just ahead of the Granderson catch.
Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 24 opportunities. The Pirates put runners on first and second but Jones got Bay to ground out to end the game -- the second time in three nights Bay made the final out with the tying run on base.
|Chris Shelton hits the second of back-to-back homers off Kip Wells in the second inning. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Curtis Granderson, CF||5||1||1||0||0||1||1||.287|
|Placido Polanco, 2B||4||1||0||0||0||0||1||.286|
|Ivan Rodriguez, C||4||0||0||0||1||1||2||.296|
|Magglio Ordonez, RF||5||2||2||1||0||1||1||.314|
|Carlos Guillen, SS||5||1||1||2||0||0||1||.297|
|Marcus Thames, LF||3||1||2||2||1||1||1||.304|
|Joel Zumaya, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Todd Jones, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Shelton, 1B||2||1||1||1||2||0||1||.273|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||2||0||0||0||2||2||2||.235|
|Kenny Rogers, P||3||0||0||0||0||0||4||.143|
|Roman Colon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Alexis Gomez, LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.258|
|3B - Carlos Guillen (2, Wells)|
|HR - Marcus Thames (16, Wells), Chris Shelton (15, Wells)|
|RBI - Magglio Ordonez (58), Carlos Guillen 2 (46), Marcus Thames 2 (32), Chris Shelton (36)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Polanco-Guillen-Shelton|
|E - Chris Shelton 2 (3, MISSED CATCH)|
|Roman Colon (W,1-0)||1.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||5.23|
|Joel Zumaya (H,19)||2||1||1||0||0||1||0||2.25|
|Todd Jones (S,21)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||6.19|
|HBP - J. Bautista (by Kenny Rogers)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kenny Rogers 73-48, Roman Colon 17-12, Joel Zumaya 35-22, Todd Jones 13-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kenny Rogers 5-5, Joel Zumaya 3-3, Todd Jones 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Kenny Rogers 21, Roman Colon 6, Joel Zumaya 8, Todd Jones 5|
|Jose Bautista, CF||4||3||2||1||0||0||1||.241|
|Jack Wilson, SS||5||0||1||1||0||0||1||.265|
|Sean Casey, 1B||4||0||1||3||0||0||2||.289|
|Jason Bay, LF||5||0||1||0||0||1||3||.283|
|Jose Castillo, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.279|
|Mike Edwards, 3B||4||1||0||0||0||0||1||.133|
|Mike Gonzalez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jose Hernandez, RF-3B||4||0||3||1||0||1||0||.236|
|Ronny Paulino, C||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.303|
|Kip Wells, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.333|
|Jonah Bayliss, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Nate McLouth, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.224|
|Matt Capps, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Craig Wilson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.276|
|Salomon Torres, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Damaso Marte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Roberto Hernandez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jeromy Burnitz, RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.228|
|a-singled for Bayliss in the 5th|
|b-struck out for Capps in the 6th|
|2B - Jose Hernandez (1, Rogers), Ronny Paulino (11, Rogers)|
|3B - Jose Bautista (2, Rogers), Jose Hernandez (1, Zumaya)|
|HR - Jose Bautista (10, Rogers)|
|SF - Sean Casey (1)|
|RBI - Jose Bautista (23), Jack Wilson (24), Sean Casey 3 (18), Jose Hernandez (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jose Hernandez (4)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Kip Wells (L,0-3)||2.1||6||7||7||0||2||2||15.19|
|IBB - Inge by Jonah Bayliss|
|HBP - Polanco (by Kip Wells)|
|WP - Kip Wells (2), Jonah Bayliss 2 (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kip Wells 64-44, Jonah Bayliss 54-24, Matt Capps 10-7, Salomon Torres 13-7, Damaso Marte 13-7, Roberto Hernandez 2-2, Mike Gonzalez 8-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kip Wells 2-3, Salomon Torres 2-1, Mike Gonzalez 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Kip Wells 14, Jonah Bayliss 13, Matt Capps 3, Salomon Torres 4, Damaso Marte 3, Roberto Hernandez 1, Mike Gonzalez 3|
|Attendance - 27318|
|Game Time - 3:04|
|Temperature - 78|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Charlie Reliford|