Correia sharp in possible farewell, as Pirates win
If Kevin Correia's last game with the Pirates was Tuesday night, his tenure ended as it began — with a win.
Correia (12-11) held the Atlanta Braves to one run and six hits through 6 2⁄3 innings while his teammates backed him up with solid run support — including a two-run homer from Garrett Jones — in the Pirates' 5-1 victory.
The Bucs' 79 victories are the most in a season since the “Freak Show” team won 79 in 1997.
The Bucs finish the 2012 schedule Wednesday afternoon, with right-hander A.J. Burnett (16-9) facing right-hander Ben Sheets (4-4), who will make his 250th and final career start before retiring.
Correia's 12th win of the season tied a career high set with the Padres in 2009 and matched last year, his first with the Pirates. The 31-year-old right-hander signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Pirates prior to the 2011 season, and he finished with 12-11 records both years.
Correia is not expected to return to the Pirates in 2013, although manager Clint Hurdle has not ruled out the possibility.
“It's huge (to end on a good note),” Correia said. “When you go into the offseason on a bad one you can't stop thinking about it for weeks and weeks, so it's nice just to rest your mind a little bit going into the offseason.”
The Pirates took a first-inning lead when Starling Marte hit a leadoff double off right-hander Tommy Hanson (13-10), then scored when Andrew McCutchen grounded out two batters later. Marte went 3 for 5.
“His at-bats have been cleaner,” Hurdle said of Marte. “He's been seeing the ball better, not as many chases down, stayed on a couple breaking balls and hit them well. … It's always fun to watch a young man gain some confidence in this game.”
The Bucs added another run when Clint Barmes hit a two-out, RBI single in the second.
Correia gave up just one single through the first three innings before former Pirates first baseman Lyle Overbay, as well as third baseman Juan Francisco, doubled to left field in the fourth to cut the Pirates' lead in half.
Marte led off the fifth with a single and scored on Alex Presley's double.
Jones hit a one-out home run, his career-best 27th, to make it 5-1.
The Pirates have 170 home runs this season, one shy of tying the club record set in 1999. It was also Jones' 45th career home run at PNC Park, equaling Brian Giles for third most in the park's history.
Eric Hinske doubled in the seventh when the ball bounced off McCutchen's glove in center field. Presley threw to Josh Harrison, who relayed it to catcher Michael McKenry along the third base line. McKenry tagged out a leaping Reed Johnson to end the inning.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.