By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- A.J. Burnett is in position to match the longest winning streak of his career. His current string of winning starts began with a victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The right-hander tries to win his seventh consecutive start Friday night when the Pittsburgh Pirates face the surging Tigers at PNC Park.
Burnett (7-2, 3.52 ERA) is 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA in eight starts - all Pittsburgh (36-32) victories - since losing at St. Louis on May 2. He's posted a 2.17 ERA while winning six straight starts for the first time since July 23-Aug. 19, 2008, with Toronto.
In his most recent outing Saturday, Burnett allowed two solo homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-2 win at Cleveland.
"It's fun to take the mound for a bunch of guys like this," Burnett told the Pirates' official website. "They come out and play hard every day."
Burnett, who won seven straight starts for the Florida Marlins from July 19-Aug. 19, 2005, began his current stretch of consecutive winning decisions May 19 when he yielded a two-run homer to Prince Fielder in six innings of a 4-3 victory at Detroit. It was Pittsburgh's only win in the three-game set at Comerica Park where it totaled seven runs.
In 10 starts, including a 10-1 victory at Detroit in Game 4 of the AL division series last year, Burnett is 6-2 with a 5.47 ERA against the Tigers.
He will try to help prevent Detroit (34-35) from moving back to .500 for the first time since it was 18-18 on May 15. Quintin Berry's RBI single in the 10th inning Thursday sent the Tigers to their eighth win in 11 games, 2-1 over St. Louis.
That run leaves the third-place Tigers 2 1/2 games out of first place in the mediocre AL Central.
"The way we're playing, we're fighting for everything we get," reliever Phil Coke told the Tigers' official website. "But instead of coming up short, it's kind of swinging in our favor now."
Fielder, who homered for the first time in 10 games Thursday, is 11 for 22 with four home runs and nine RBIs in his last six versus Pittsburgh. Two of his three hits in eight at-bats against Burnett left the park.
Doug Fister (1-3, 2.68) makes his first appearance versus Pittsburgh looking to build on his first win of 2012. Fresh off his second stint on the disabled list with a strained left side, Fister allowed three hits in six scoreless innings of a 4-1 win over Colorado on Saturday.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction," he said. "I didn't have any pain, and I executed pitches when I needed them. I feel very good."
Fister faces a Pirates club that has won four of five overall and 10 of 12 at home to move within two games of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones each drove in three runs while James McDonald pitched his first career complete game in Pittsburgh's 9-1 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.
Though the Pirates rank near the bottom of the majors with 239 runs, they have scored nine in three of the last five games.
McCutchen is 11 for 21 with five RBIs over the last five contests. His two home runs were the only hits he had in 11 at-bats at Detroit last month. However, he is 8 for 20 (.400) in six games against the Tigers at PNC Park.
Updated June 22, 2012