Only five pitchers in major league history have produced three no-hitters in a career, and Verlander came within two outs of becoming the sixth.
Josh Harrison spoiled Verlander's bid for baseball history by looping a soft single to center with one away in the ninth.
Verlander went on to retire the next two batters for his first shutout of the season and the fifth of his career.
Pitching despite a small blister on his right thumb, Verlander (5-1) struck out 12 and walked two. He threw 109 pitches.
He was trying to join an elite group of baseball legends. The only pitchers to have thrown three no-hitters in a career have been Nolan Ryan (7), Sandy Koufax (4), Bob Feller (3), Cy Young (3) and Larry Corcoran (3), who pitched in the 1880s.
Verlander's first no-hitter came June 12, 2007, against Milwaukee, and he turned in another one May 7, 2011, against Toronto.
His dominance against the Pirates overshadowed Detroit's 13-hit attack that allowed the Tigers to snap a two-game skid.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both had an RBI double in the first inning to give the Tigers all the runs they needed. Delmon Young had a solo homer during a two-run fourth, and he also drove in a run with a double in the seventh.
The loss went to Charlie Morton (2-4), who allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings.