Tigers take three of four from Bucs

Pirates' starter Gerrit Cole fires a pitch during Thursday's loss to the Tigers. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Jordan Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings, Nick Castellanos homered and drove in four runs and the Detroit Tigers remained unbeaten on the road with a 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Zimmermann (2-0), who signed a five-year, $110 million deal with Detroit last December, gave up six hits and two walks while striking out four. He has yet to give up a run for the Tigers, who won the final three games of the interleague series and improved to 4-0 away from Comerica Park.

Castellanos hit a two-run double in the fourth off Gerrit Cole (0-2) and added a two-run homer in the eighth off Tony Watson. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.

Cole gave up two runs in six innings and survived a scare when a liner from Zimmermann glanced off his head in the sixth.

The Tigers have scored at least four runs in each of their first eight games, tying for their best offensive start since 1913.

David Freese and John Jaso had three hits each for Pittsburgh, which left 12 runners on base.

Zimmermann wasn’t quite as sharp in his second start for Detroit as he was in his sparkling debut last week against the Yankees, when he surrendered just two hits over seven innings. He labored at times but wriggled out of trouble when required.

The Pirates left the bases loaded twice, most maddeningly in the fifth when three singles put Zimmermann in a jam with the middle of the order up. Starling Marte, however, popped out and Gregory Polanco couldn’t take advantage after jumping ahead 3-0 in the count. He flied out to shallow center as Zimmermann preserved a 2-0 lead before Detroit’s offense went to work against Pittsburgh’s bullpen.

Tyler Collins hit an RBI double and Bobby Wilson hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Rob Scahill to put the Tigers up 4-0. Pittsburgh drew within one after Zimmermann exited, tagging Drew VerHagen for three runs in the seventh. Detroit responded immediately thanks to a rare shaky outing by Watson.

J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly made it 5-3 and Castellanos followed with a shot a few rows deep into the sun-splashed bleachers in left field at PNC Park.

Cole, wobbly in his first start last Saturday in Cincinnati, retired the first nine batters before briefly coming undone in the third. Justin Upton, who reached on a fielder’s choice, went to third when an attempted pickoff throw by Cole went awry because no one was covering first.

Martinez worked a walk to put runners on the corners and Castellanos doubled over Andrew McCutchen’s head in center to give the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish.