PITTSBURGH -- With the acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez, there are many who think Kevin Correia could be on his way out of the Pirates' rotation.If that does happen, it seems more and more likely that it will be by trade rather than a reassignment to the bullpen. On Wednesday against the Cubs, Correia won his sixth straight decision, holding Chicago to two runs on four hits over six innings.
Aided by homers from Michael McKenry and Neil Walker and a go-ahead hit from Garrett Jones, Correia helped the Pirates snap a two-game skid and avoid a sweep, as they beat the Cubs, 3-2, in front of 33,935 fans at PNC Park."I'm out there to try to get wins, and that's about it," said Correia, who pitched in front of the largest PNC Park crowd to ever attend a 12:35 p.m. ET game on a weekday. "At this point in my career, I'm not terribly concerned with my ERA," he continued. "I want to go out there and I want to win games for the team. However that has to happen, I'm happy to get it done that way." Correia is 6-0 with a 3.89 ERA in his last seven starts. On Wednesday, he kept pace with the Cubs' Ryan Dempster, whose 2.11 ERA before the game led all qualifying Major League starters. "The way we played today was pretty impressive," Walker said. "The guy who pitched today has been one of the best pitchers in the league -- and all of baseball -- this year. We grinded it out, and that was big." Pittsburgh scored the game's decisive run in the bottom of the sixth inning, right after Correia (8-6) exited. With two outs and men on the corners, Jones laced a double into right field to bring home Alex Presley.
Timely offensive contributions such as that one have gone a long way in helping Correia string together six straight victories, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the game."He's keeping us in games, and the offense has responded to get him on top," Hurdle said. "More often than not, you've got to pitch well to win up here. Every once in a while, it's different. But he competes. The games haven't gotten away from him. He's stayed away from the big inning." The two teams traded home runs in the first. On an 0-2 count, Correia was taken deep by Anthony Rizzo, who put one in the right-field seats. Walker picked up his pitcher by doing the same, going yard for the ninth time this season. The Pirates didn't get another hit off Dempster (5-5) until the fifth. With the bases empty, McKenry deposited a ball in the left-field seats. The blast tied the game at 2-2 and gave the backup catcher his eighth home run. Chicago had gone on top in the third, which saw a double by David DeJesus. It appeared as if his hit cleared the fence, but DeJesus was directed to second base after the play was reviewed and fan interference was declared. He ended up scoring anyway, though, crossing the plate on a single by Rizzo. "I made a couple bad pitches to Rizzo, but that was about it," Correia said. "Besides that, everything else was pretty much as planned." Correia lowered his season ERA to 4.24 in the win. He threw 78 pitches, 49 for strikes. From an offensive standpoint, three runs on five hits doesn't make for astronomical production, but it might have seemed that way following Pittsburgh's performance in the first two games of this series. In dropping both of them, the Pirates combined for one run and seven hits. Following the win, Hurdle lauded the home run by McKenry and an impressive running catch by defensive replacement Gorkys Hernandez, neither of whom are everyday starters. "That's what it takes," Hurdle said. "When you're out to make history, and not endure history, it takes that. It takes everybody putting something in every day -- everybody knowing they've got purpose, and they've got value." Playing in right field, Hernandez kept Bryan LaHair from leading off the ninth with an extra-base hit. Two batters later, Joel Hanrahan struck out Luis Valbuena for his 29th save. The win prevented the Pirates from being swept for the third time this season. On Thursday, Pittsburgh begins a 10-game road trip with four contests in Houston, where Rodriguez will join his new club against his old one, thereby forcing one of Pittsburgh's current starters out of the regular rotation. "He's a good pitcher, obviously. He's going to come in here and he's going to help the team," Correia said. "We're obviously going to have to make some sort of decision on somebody at some point. "I was pitching today, and I didn't put a lot of thought into it last night. I was kind of focused on this game, because it was an important game."
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.