But as hot as the Tigers have been, the Pirates have been just as good at home. The Bucs have won 11 of their last 13 home games and 10 of their last 12 Interleague games at PNC Park. Their home record of 22-12 is the second best in the Major Leagues, trailing only the Dodgers' 24-12 mark.
Still, Tigers manager Jim Leyland likes where his team is headed, especially after getting catcher Alex Avila back from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday.
"I think we're a real good team that hasn't played really good, [and] that's starting to play better," Leyland said. "I think we're starting to get our pieces back in order. This team will play real good at some point. Exactly when that will happen, I can't tell you. But we're a good team. We're not out of the woods yet."
The Tigers showed that they weren't quite back to being the preseason favorites to win the division in Friday's series opener. Their offense struggled against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, who threw six shutout innings.
Friday's victory was the Pirates' fifth since a brief four-game losing streak last week. Key to their recent hot streak has been an improved offense. Pittsburgh scored nine runs three times during the past week and is averaging 6.5 runs since their losing streak.
Manager Clint Hurdle was encouraged by his team's hitting as this weekend's series began.
"They're doing things they're capable of doing, that I remained optimistic about them being able to do," Hurdle said. "That will be a nice challenge this weekend."
After one game against the Tigers, the Pirates have lived up to the challenge. But they know it gets harder, as the series continues with right-handers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander starting for the Tigers the next two days.
Tigers: Scherzer looks to replicate last start vs. Pirates
Scherzer will be making his second start of the season against the Pirates, and after his first one, he is likely excited about the opportunity.
On May 20, in the first series between the Tigers and the Pirates, Scherzer struck out 15 in seven innings. He allowed four hits and two runs, both of them on solo homers.
All 15 of Scherzer's strikeouts were of the swinging variety, making him the first pitcher since 1990 to strike out at least 15 batters, all swinging, in one game.
Pirates: Lincoln hopes to show progress in move to rotation
Right-hander Brad Lincoln will make his fourth start since moving back to the rotation in early June. His first three starts did not go well. He has allowed 13 runs in 11 2/3 innings, and has not gone five innings in any of the outings.
Throughout his three-year Major League career, Lincoln has been much more successful in the bullpen than the rotation. He has pitched about a quarter as many innings in relief, but his ERA is three runs lower and his strikeout rate is more than twice as good.
Hurdle wants to give Lincoln a chance to work through his struggles as a starter, but he will have to pitch better to remain in the rotation.
"It's been a work in progress, and the results haven't necessarily been what we have wanted," Hurdle said. "I think we need to give this young man a chance to channel through the transition period, which isn't as easy as some people might think it is."
Third baseman Casey McGehee saw his nine-game hitting streak end on Friday night after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
McGehee went 13-for-35 with two home runs during the streak, which was two game short of the longest of his career.
Current members of the Pirates are hitting just .206 against Scherzer. Three of those hits, however, are home runs.