The Pittsburgh Pirates needed a strong start from Kevin Correia on Thursday for their final road game of the 2012 season. Facing a Cy Young Award candidate in New York’s R.A. Dickey, and their 20th consecutive losing season on the line, Correia gave the club the chance to notch their 77th win through his first four frames. But a four-run fifth pushed the Mets out in front. The Pirates offense scratched their way back, but came up a run short. The 6-5 loss on Thursday was their 80th of the season, and in order to snap the 19-year skid, Pittsburgh now needs to win their final six games at PNC Park.
Correia entered game action on a roll since he was moved back into the rotation. The right-hander was charged with 10 earned runs in his last 37.2 innings of work (2.39 ERA) and lowered his season ERA from 4.63 to 4.11 during that span. And after his first three innings, it looked as if Correia was going to continue that success.
After retiring the side in the first inning, Correia served up a leadoff homer on a 3-2 pitch to start the second. A defensive gem saved the right-hander of a second homer in the frame. Mike Baxter hit a pitch deep to right field, but Travis Snider climbed the fence and robbed the Mets of a homer by an unbelievable leaning catch to keep the one-run lead intact.
Correia retired six straight before giving up a single to start the fourth inning. David Wright followed with a single up the left side to put runners on the corners. After getting a pop out to foul territory, Jerry Hairston lined an RBI single to right field to bring the game within one. Correia was able to get out of the jam with two groundouts to leave the runners stranded.
Correia worked himself into another jam in the fifth. But this time, it pushed the Mets out in front. A leadoff walk and a one-out single started the rally from New York. Daniel Murphy picked up his second hit of the afternoon by lining a single into center field to tie the game up at 3. The game was broken open with a three-run shot from Wright to charge Correia with six runs on the day. After striking out a combined 15 in his two starts prior, Correia notched just two in the loss on Thursday. Correia allowed seven hits and a walk while throwing 80 pitches, 52 for strikes.
McCutchen Exits with Knee Injury
Andrew McCutchen was pulled from the game in the seventh inning after making a diving attempt that was trapped for a base hit. McCutchen came up slowly favoring his knee and after being evaluated by the training staff was removed from the game. Manager Clint Hurdle said in the post game presser that he was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and will be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh tomorrow.
Getting back healthy for the final stretch of the season will be key to him winning the National League batting title. After going 0-for-4, McCutchen is hitting .332 on the season. Buster Posey of San Francisco, who is the only other current player that threatens McCutchen, entered game action today with a .331 clip.
Walker to See Back Specialist
A low back injury forced Neil Walker out of his third straight game on Thursday in New York. Walker will see a back specialist on Friday after the club returns to Pittsburgh to diagnose his progress. The visit was previously scheduled, and was not due to any new developments on his low back.
Hurdle said yesterday that they are currently considering shutting down Walker’s season early. He continues to be re-evaluated. Josh Harrison made the start at second base in Walker’s absence for the second straight game.
Pirates Scratch and Claw, But Not Enough
The Pirates had a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning behind Correia. Pittsburgh found a way to hit the knuckleballer in the second frame by plating a two-run inning. Garrett Jones laced an opposite field double, then a one-out single from Travis Snider started the frame. Rod Barajas followed with an RBI double and Jordy Mercer, who got the start at short, legged out an infield single to drive in the second run.
In the fourth, Barajas picked up his second RBI of the game with a solo-dinger for No. 11 on the season to give the club a two-run cushion. However after Correia’s four-run fifth inning, the Pirates weren’t able to do any damage until the ninth inning. A big swing of the bat from Alex Presley brought the game within one run in the final frame. The two-run shot was his 10th on the season. But the Bucs were retired behind the outfielder sailing their 80th loss on the season.