PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' annual Interleague woes were the first topic mentioned to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle in his pregame session with the media on Friday afternoon.
As well-versed in Pirates history as Hurdle is, he surely already knew all the specifics: how the team has posted a winning Interleague record only twice in 15 years. How the Pirates' .372 winning percentage in Interleague was easily the worst in the Majors. How the Bucs finished 2-13 last season while being swept by Detroit.
Hurdle didn't care, offering up in response: "We're not looking at the past. There are a lot of things, historically, that haven't worked out well here that we are trying to change."
Whatever the Pirates' problems in Interleague play have been before, none surfaced on Friday. For the third straight game, the Pirates rewarded a strong starting performance with plenty of offensive backing. Punctuated by a five-RBI night from Neil Walker, the Pirates extended their winning streak to a season-best three games with a 10-1 win over the Tigers in front of 24,396 at PNC Park.
"It was a lot of fun," Walker said, after establishing a new career-high in RBIs. "Hitting is contagious. Hitting good and hitting bad is contagious. We were firing on all cylinders today."
What turned out to be a runaway victory was anything but that in the early going. The Pirates took a 1-1 tie into the bottom of the sixth in a game that saw Jeff Karstens set the tone. Matching up against veteran Brad Penny, Karstens retired the first 14 hitters he faced before a bloop single with two out in the fifth erased his bid for any type of historical performance.
Karstens allowed a leadoff homer to Detroit's Ramon Santiago in the sixth, but was otherwise as impressive as he has been all year.
"We talked about it before the game -- keep them off-balance," Karstens said. "They're a very good fastball hitting team ... so just try to stay out of situations where they could hurt us."
Hurdle was prepared to send Karstens back out for the seventh, but the Pirates' opportunity to tack on runs in the sixth forced Hurdle to pinch-hit for his starter, ending Karstens' night after only 75 pitches and three hits.
"We couldn't get anything going off of him," Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson said. "The hits that we were getting, we just couldn't counter them too much with anything. You've just got to give credit to the pitcher."
Hurdle's gamble to go for a crooked number in the sixth paid off in big ways. By the time the inning ended, the Pirates had scored six times, matching the most runs they've scored in any inning this year.
Pittsburgh sent 10 batters to the plate in an inning that began with a solo homer from Lyle Overbay. The homer broke a 1-1 tie and came after Overbay had twice been retired by Penny on deep flyouts.
"I see him decent, but he made a mistake with that pitch," Overbay said of Penny's first-pitch fastball. "I felt good those first couple at-bats. It's been a while since I've felt like that."
After a walk and single, Hurdle made his move by sending Matt Diaz out to bat for Karstens. With the aid of a wide throw to first from Detroit second baseman Scott Sizemore, Diaz avoided a potential inning-ending double play and pushed home the second run of the frame.
"Scotty rushed it a little bit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He just didn't make the play. That happens."
From there, the flood gates opened.
The next two Pirates hitters walked, and Garrett Jones broke the game open with a two-run double. Walker capped the inning with his own RBI double.
"We had that double play that didn't get turned, and we made them pay," Overbay said. "That's big there. We haven't been able to do that very often. We got pitches up in the zone, and we just hit them in the gaps."
Not only did eight of the 10 runs scored on Friday come with two out, but the Pirates got contributions from everyone in the lineup. By the end of the sixth, every position player had already reached base at least once in the game. All but Brandon Wood had a hit.
And in yet another sign that the offense might finally be waking up, Friday marked the third straight game in which the Pirates have scored at least five runs. The club hadn't done that previously this year.
"Hitting is contagious, I believe that," Hurdle said. "I've seen it happen so many times. We need to string some at-bats together. That's one area where we haven't been able to connect the dots real well, from an offensive standpoint."
Walker finished off the Pirates' scoring with a three-run homer in the eighth, giving him 18 hits in his past 42 at-bats at PNC Park. He now leads all Major League second basemen with 29 RBIs and has hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games.
Even still, he sees room for personal improvement.
"To be honest with you, I really don't feel like my approach has been great this season, but I have driven in some runs," said Walker, whose 16 extra-base hits ranks second among NL second basemen. "There is still a lot to work on."
With the win, the Pirates move to 11-14 against the Tigers in Interleague Play. Seven of those wins have come at home.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.