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Correia pitches Pirates past Cubs after long rain delay

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Associated Press
9/18/2012 3:04:19 AM
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CHICAGO - Kevin Correia figured the hitters would be anxious after waiting around for nearly four hours.

He was right.

Correia pitched seven innings of two-hit ball and Starling Marte hit a two-run triple to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago Cubs 3-0 Monday night in a game that was delayed more than 3 1/2 hours by rain.

With the Pirates still in playoff contention, the teams waited out two storms at Wrigley Field that pushed back the start for 3 hours, 37 minutes. The first pitch was thrown at 10:42 p.m. CDT, and Joel Hanrahan delivered the final one at 1:28 a.m. on Tuesday.

"In a game that starts at 10:40, the hitters are going to be aggressive," Correia said. "It's not going to be a game where you take a lot of pitches, so if you can pound the zone with quality pitches, you're going to have a decent outing usually."

Pittsburgh tied Milwaukee for third place in the NL Central at 74-72. Both teams are 2 1/2 games behind division rival St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot, with the Los Angeles Dodgers also in their path.

Correia (11-9) walked one and struck out six, equaling a season high. He whiffed the first four batters he faced and matched his longest outing of the season.

"You can argue this is the best game he's pitched all year — the length, the efficiency, a couple double plays, a couple minor jams he worked right through and out of," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Very good command. It was the start we needed, a very good outing by Kevin."

Jason Grilli pitched a hitless eighth and Hanrahan got three outs for his 36th save in 39 chances. Darwin Barney had both of Chicago's hits.

"You can chalk it up to maybe sitting around all day waiting," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Both teams it seemed were in a daze out there."

The Pirates touched up Cubs starter Travis Wood for three runs in the third inning, including Marte's key triple. Jose Tabata drove in Marte with a double to deep centre.

Clint Barmes was hit by a pitch and Brock Holt's single up the middle on a 3-2 count sent Barmes to third. After Correia was called out on strikes, Marte tripled to left.

The rookie has tripled in three consecutive games.

"They come in bunches," Hurdle said. "I think the young man has an opportunity to possibly lead the league in triples someday. That's just a lot of usable speed out there. That's the biggest swing of the night for us."

Wood (6-12) worked 5 2-3 innings, giving up four hits. He walked one and struck out a career-high nine.

Hurdle said his team stayed relaxed during the rain delay by watching videos and the Broncos-Falcons NFL game.

"We had plenty of time on our hands," Hurdle said. "We made good use of it.

"Most of these guys know, you're playing 20 (games) in 20 (days). There's no days off. They're not going to reschedule unless the weather just goes way bad. You're here for a while. Professionally, they just settled in and just waited to play."

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but reliever Michael Bowden retired Holt on a grounder.

Trying to play spoiler and avoid a 100-loss season, the Cubs (58-89) had won seven of eight.

"These guys started talking about it a couple of weeks ago, about (not) losing 100 games. That's their motivating factor, as well as all of us, because nobody wants to be associated with that," Sveum said before the game. "To be able to sit back and knock people out of the playoffs or knock them one game less, that's (also) what you get motivated (for) in September when you're out of it."

NOTES: Pittsburgh returns home to host Milwaukee on Tuesday night. A.J. Burnett (15-7) faces Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (15-8). ... The Cubs host NL Central-leading Cincinnati beginning Tuesday night, and Sveum said he doesn't want the Reds to clinch the division title this week at Wrigley Field. "Nobody wants anybody to clinch on your turf, that's for sure," Sveum said. "It's inevitable that they'll end up clinching, you just don't want them to do it at your place." ... Wood had struck out eight batters three times. ... Barney extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a second-inning single. ... Bryan LaHair has received limited playing time since the arrival of 1B Anthony Rizzo from the minors. Sveum said LaHair's best bet is to play in the off-season. "I think for his sake he needs to go play winter ball and get those at-bats he missed out on and be ready for spring training like he was this year," Sveum said. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker was out of the starting lineup. Walker played in the previous three games after missing 15 because of lower back pain. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said Walker needed a day to rest. ... The State College Spikes, the Pirates' short-season Class-A affiliate, announced a two-year player development contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Spikes had been affiliated with the Pirates since 2007. Pittsburgh will have to find a new short-season affiliate.

Kevin Correia (Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)

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(Photo: David Banks/Getty Images)
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