Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 4/15/12

The Pirates stopped their skid and picked up a much needed win on Sunday thanks to some strong pitching, a little bit of offense, and insurance runs provided by some awesome bunts. Yep, awesome bunts.

Let’s start with another unlikely contributor: Kevin Correia. Through nine games, Correia has pitched two of the three best outings by Pirates starters, and has been the best of the five overall so far. He’s pitching like he did at the beginning of last season — probably better — and is working on a case to stay in the rotation if he can keep it up. Today Correia went six strong innings and allowed just three hits and one run. And of course, OF COURSE, he became the first Pirate starter to pick up a win in 2012. This one was well-deserved, though.

Correia was handed an early lead when Garrett Jones finally got a hold of a ball and smoked his first homer of the year in the second inning. It was a solo shot, but the Bucs picked up another run after hits by Neil Walker, Clint Barmes, a Michael McKenry walk, and an Alex Presley infield single. Ryan Vogelsong looked shaky early on for the Giants, and the Bucco bats seemed on the verge of breaking out, but Vogelsong settled in and the bats quieted down for a while after that.

Correia pitched well with the lead, and only allowed the Giants to cut it in half in the fifth after a double and two groundouts. Jared Hughes was called upon to work the seventh once Kevin was done for the day, and he worked around a double and put up a zero.

Still, it felt like something was bound to go wrong soon, so the two insurance runs the Bucs picked up in the eighth were huge. Andrew McCutchen (who hit the ball hard all day – he was 1-for-4 but had two flyouts that would’ve probably been out at PNC Park) led off with a single, and Casey McGehee singled as well. After a pitching change, Walker laid down a surprise bunt that was a sacrifice at worst, but Pablo Sandoval wasn’t prepared for it, was late, and threw wild – scoring a run. That put men at the corners for Josh Harrison (pinch hitting for Pedro Alvarez, who had another horrendous day at the dish). Harrison laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to bring home another run. Normally, you know I’m opposed to bunts, but these two were well executed and came in two pretty good situations. Can’t argue with the result.

With the much more comfortable 4-1 cushion, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan made things a little two interesting in the 8th and 9th – each put two baserunners on, bringing the tying run to the plate – but both escaped unscathed. Hanrahan picked up his first save of the year – although he did not look sharp at all.

Overall, this was a good win. There’s still a ton of work to do on offense, but the bats woke up a little bit (8 hits) and showed some encouraging signs (such as a season-high 5 walks). Correia delivered a great start and the bullpen got the job done. On to Arizona.

Pirates 4, Giants 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 3-6 / Next: Monday, at D-Backs, 9:40

MVP: Presley (+.107) / LVP: Tabata (-.123) / Key play: Jones’ HR

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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