Pirates start change of image by routing Nats

July 03, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t need their All-Star on Sunday. The closer is superfluous when it’s an eight-run game.

Instead, a pair of maybe-could-have-beens again made the case that, perhaps, these Pirates are deserving of more attention than the black-and-gold teams of recent past.

Kevin Correia won his 11th game, and Andrew McCutchen had three hits to cap a prolific series as Pittsburgh cruised to a 10-2 win over the Washington Nationals.

Pittsburgh will wake up on the Fourth of July with a winning record for the first time since 1999. Correia’s nine road victories are tops in baseball. McCutchen had nine hits, including six for extra bases, in the four-game series to raise his average to .294. If they were anyone but the Pirates, perhaps there would be three All-Stars instead of just reliever Joel Hanrahan, who earned the team’s lone nod when the selections were announced earlier in the day.

“It’s up to us to change that,” McCutchen said. “The majority of people look at us as just being ’the Pirates,’ and they’re going to say it’s ’the Pirates’ until we show a difference. That’s just fuel for the fire for us as a team to continue surprising teams every time we show up. Win a series here, win a series there. Sweep a team here, sweep a team there. Next thing you know they’re going, ’Hey, these Pirates are the real deal.”’

Correia (11-6) allowed two runs and six hits over six innings to become the first Pirates pitcher to win 11 games before the All-Star break since Jim Bibby in 1980. He’s tied for the majors lead in wins with Jair Jurrjens, Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander.

Correia said he was more focused on his start than the All-Star selection show, but he likes that the club was at least in the mix for more than one spot.

“We had a few guys that deserved a look, and that’s good,” Correia said. “I don’t think this team’s had that in the past. It’s been ’a guy’s got to make it, so a guy goes.”’

Pittsburgh’s 10 runs matched a season-high as the club moved two games over .500 for the ninth time this season, where they keep hitting a barrier that so far has stopped them cold. They are 0-8 when trying to get to three games over.

The Pirates were due for a laugher after playing mostly tight ones for much of the season. They scored three in the first, five in the second. McCutchen had three hits and would have had four were it not for Roger Bernadina’s diving catch on the warning track in the left field corner.

“It’s nice for the bats to show up and have a feel-good day on offense,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “But I think we’re built more for the other. I don’t know how many more of these we’ll get, but when we get ’em we’ll take ’em.”

The Pirates battered Jason Marquis (7-3), who lost for the first time in eight starts. He lasted only 1 1-3 innings, allowing seven runs and eight hits as the Nationals again fell below .500 and dropped to 2-5 under manager Davey Johnson. Washington has already allowed 10 or more runs twice under Johnson, matching the number times it happened in 78 games under Jim Riggleman and John McLaren.

“I don’t like to get beat,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t any fun today.”

Jayson Werth left the game after getting hit on the left arm by a pitch in the sixth. He continued to struggle at the plate, striking out with two outs and two men on base in the first and flying out to center with a runner on base in the third to drop his batting average to .223. The fans’ tepid reaction was much kinder than it was on Saturday, when he was booed loudly during the second game of a doubleheader.

Werth declined to speak to reporters for the second straight day. Johnson said Werth is sore and will probably miss a day or two.

Such nagging injuries are a mounting problem for the Nationals. Michael Morse, the team’s best hitter, sat out Sunday with a bruised forearm and will likely miss Monday’s game as well.

“I’m real concerned about it,” Johnson said. “Nobody’s 100 percent.”

NOTES: There wasn’t much of a feeling that Hanrahan and Tyler Clippard would be future All-Stars when they were part of the Nationals bullpen in 2008 and 2009. On Sunday, they both were named to the NL squad. Hanrahan has tied a Pirates record with 24 consecutive converted save chances. “It is kind of ironic,” Hanrahan said. “I went into that (Washington) clubhouse plenty of times hanging my head, looking for answers, trying to figure out where my career was going — really searching for everything. To be here now, riding high, hearing the announcement I made the All-Star team — that’s really a good feeling.” Clippard didn’t figure he’d have much of a shot because he’s a setup man, but he has 57 strikeouts, 15 walks and a 1.96 ERA for the Nationals. He has allowed only 6 of 31 inherited runners to score. “I knew there was maybe an outside shot,” Clippard said. “But I didn’t really take it seriously and maybe that’s probably a good thing.” ... Morse will be on a fan ballot to determine the final NL All-Star spot. ... The Pirates sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Triple-A Indianapolis and recalled RHP Chris Leroux. ... Nationals 43-year-old first baseman Matt Stairs beat out an infield hit in the first inning. He was starting in the field for the first time since April 12.

The Herald-Mail Articles