Nationals-Pirates Preview

Kevin Correia and Jason Marquis have been pleasant surprises for

their respective teams early in 2011.

Each takes the mound looking to build on their respective

success as the Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting Washington Nationals

continue their three-game set Sunday.

Correia (3-1, 2.48 ERA), who went 29-36 with a 4.64 ERA as a

starter with San Francisco and San Diego over the previous four

years, signed with Pittsburgh (9-11) in the offseason – a move that

has provided immediate positive results.

The right-hander allowed two earned runs and four hits en route

to his first complete game of the season, a 9-3 victory at

Cincinnati on Monday. Last season, no Pirates starter won three

games prior to May 15.

“I threw a lot of fastballs,” Correia told the Pirates’ official

website. “You obviously want as many runs as possible, but it’s

hard to go up there and throw a lot of offspeed pitches and get

behind guys when you have that big of a lead. I threw a lot of

two-seam fastballs early, and I got people out early.”

Correia is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA over three career starts versus

the Nationals (9-10). In his last start against them, he gave up

three hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 7-0 Padres win on Sept. 2,

2009.

Marquis (1-0, 3.26), meanwhile, gave up two runs and nine hits

in seven innings en route to earning his first victory in three

tries during Sunday’s 8-4 win over Milwaukee.

“I think as the game went on, (Marquis) got better and better

with his slider,” manager Jim Riggleman told Major League

Baseball’s official website. “He was getting ground balls and we

were making plays for him. It was a kind of classic Marquis

performance when he’s healthy.”

The right-hander has recorded a quality start in each of his

three outings after going 2-9 in an injury-plagued campaign in 2010

– his first with the Nationals.

Marquis, who is 11-6 with a 3.69 ERA lifetime as a starter

against Pittsburgh, has won four straight starts against the

Pirates while posting a 1.57 ERA, but will likely need the offense

to pick up its recent effort if he hopes to extend his winning

streak.

Jayson Werth hit his third homer for the Nationals, who couldn’t

get much else going offensively. They are batting .141 and have

totaled five runs during a season worst-tying three-game skid.

The Pirates also have failed to score with any consistency.

After getting shut out in the first two games of its road series

with Florida and falling 9-5 on Thursday, Pittsburgh recorded its

highest run total at home in 2011 by defeating Washington 7-2 on

Saturday.

Prior to that, the Pirates had averaged just 2.5 runs at PNC

Park, where they are now batting .190 after recording nine hits, a

season-high at home.

“We finally showed the home fans what we’re capable of doing,”

said Saturday’s winning pitcher Jeff Karstens, who allowed two runs

in six innings.

Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno went 2 for 4 with an RBI, and

outfielder Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 2 to break an 0-for-11 slump

with three runs and two stolen bases.

“Andrew is such a threat every time he gets on base,” manager

Clint Hurdle said.

Cedeno has six hits in 13 at-bats lifetime against Marquis while

McCutchen is 2 for 9.