Pirates-Nationals Preview

Pitching has been a surprising strength for both the Pittsburgh

Pirates and Washington Nationals.

Kevin Correia and Jason Marquis are at the forefront of that

success for their respective clubs.

Correia looks to gain a share of the major league lead in wins

when he starts for the Pirates opposite Marquis and the Nationals

in the finale of this series Sunday.

Pittsburgh (42-41) and Washington (42-42) have rotations that

rank among the best in the NL with ERAs of 3.63 and 3.58,

respectively. Both teams have displayed major improvement from last

season when the Pirates’ starters were last in the majors with a

5.28 ERA, while the Nationals weren’t much better at 4.58.

That strong starting pitching has continued in this series with

the teams combining for 18 total runs in three games, two won by

the Nationals.

Pittsburgh took the opener of a doubleheader Saturday, winning

5-3 before dropping the nightcap 4-3.

Runs may be hard to come by again with Correia (10-6, 3.79 ERA)

and Marquis (7-2, 3.62) on the mound.

Correia has already matched his 2010 win total with San Diego,

and a victory Sunday would tie him with four others, including

reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, for the most in

baseball. It would also make the right-hander the Pirates’ first

11-game winner prior to the All-Star break since Jim Bibby in

1980.

Despite his surprising success, Correia could see his innings

limited in the second half of the season since he’s already 38 shy

of last season’s total.

“I do think the All-Star break won’t come quick enough for him,

just for strength,” manager Clint Hurdle told the team’s official

website. “We’ll talk about maybe changing some things up if he’s

comfortable with it. It’s just a lot of innings and a lot of

pitches. He’s just not quite as sharp as we’ve seen him in the

past.”

Correia is 2-2 with a 4.75 ERA in his last five starts. He’s won

his last two games despite allowing seven earned runs and 14 hits

in 12 innings.

“I don’t feel like I’m slowing down at this point,” Correia

said. “Right now, I feel fine. I don’t know that, at this point,

I’m going to have trouble keeping it going. I don’t think I’m going

to need a break.”

Correia is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts versus

Washington. He gave up five runs and a season-high 11 hits – two

homers – over 4 2-3 innings in a 6-3 loss April 24 opposite

Marquis.

Marquis continued his success against the Pirates in that

contest, allowing three runs and eight hits over six innings. He is

5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts against Pittsburgh.

The right-hander has been dominant at home this year, going 4-0

with a 2.13 ERA in six starts – all Nationals wins.

He wasn’t as sharp on the road against the Los Angeles Angels on

Tuesday, surrendering four runs – three earned – with four walks in

five innings before leaving without a decision in an 11-5 loss.

“Some nights are going to be battles,” Marquis told the team’s

official website.

Danny Espinosa went 4 for 7 during Saturday’s doubleheader. The

second baseman is hitting .418 with five homers and 14 RBIs during

Washington’s 12-2 run at home. He batted .184 with four homers

while driving in 14 over his first 24 home games.

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen is 6 for 11 with three doubles,

one triple, one homer and two RBIs in this series.