NEW YORK (AP) — All those aces and All-Stars out there, and it’s Kevin Correia who has more wins than any of them.
Correia became the first eight-game winner in the majors and the pesky Pittsburgh Pirates scratched out five infield singles in a five-run seventh inning to beat the Mets 9-3 on Wednesday night, sending New York manager Terry Collins into a frustrated postgame rant.
Andrew McCutchen made a dazzling catch in deep right-center and Correia (8-4) pitched six poised innings to help the Pirates improve to 17-14 on the road — matching last season’s win total away from home.
“That was a target area going in, an area of attention, and our guys have responded very well to it,” new Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “So at the end of the day it’s another mile marker that we’re able to at least put behind us.”
Pittsburgh was a major league-worst 17-64 away from home last year, but this season has brought quite a turnaround under Hurdle. Pitching is the prime reason, and Correia is a big part of that.
The 30-year-old right-hander, signed to an $8 million, two-year contract in December after spending the past two seasons with San Diego, is 7-1 with a 2.42 ERA in eight starts on the road.
“I like to wait until the end before I start looking at any of that stuff,” Correia said. “Unless they post ‘em in the Bassmaster magazine or a surfer mag, I don’t read a lot of sports besides those two — or Golf Digest.”
Pittsburgh starters have gone 13 consecutive games without allowing more than two earned runs. The Pirates said that’s the longest streak in the majors this season and the club’s longest since 1984, citing research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Kevin pitched great,” Hurdle said. “It’s never easy. You just can’t take for granted what they’re doing, because this is the major leagues and any team on any night can go ahead and drop something on you. … Our guys have been very impressive.”
Xavier Paul stroked two RBI singles after entering as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. McCutchen had three hits, legging out two infield singles, after going 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in the first two games of the series.
Chris Capuano (3-6) was a hard-luck loser after carrying a three-hit shutout into the seventh.
“I’m sick of trying to describe seventh innings — about five in a row,” said the fiery Collins, in his first season as Mets manager. “I’m running out of ideas here. I mean, do we play hard? Absolutely. That’s not the issue. The issue is not effort. That’s not it. It’s about execution. We have to add on some points when we get the lead and I’m not looking for home runs. I’m looking for quality at-bats. We can’t make careless mistakes. We do. We give up at-bats. We can’t do that. We don’t have that kind of team.”
The Pirates are 4-2 on their seven-game trip and have won six of their last eight away from home. They have won seven of 10 road series and can take another one with a victory Thursday afternoon, when All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes is expected back in the New York lineup.
Reyes has been on the bereavement list the last three days following his grandmother’s death.
Pittsburgh won its second straight game at Citi Field after losing its first eight. Since 2005, the Mets are 18-7 against the Pirates at home.
“It’s not one guy. It’s not two guys. This is a whole team thing. And I sit up every night trying to figure out what we can do to get us over the top,” Collins said. “I don’t have the answers. I’m searching. I’m wringing the rag dry of coming in here and having you look at me like I’m a stinkin’ fool. And I told these guys: ‘We’re good enough. We’ve got to go play the game right, and we just can’t continue to make foolish mistakes.”‘
Ruben Tejada fisted a two-run single that put New York ahead 2-0 in the fourth and Justin Turner homered in the eighth to cut it to 9-3, snapping a long power outage for the Mets.
Minus injured boppers David Wright and Ike Davis, they had gone 10 games without a home run for the first time since a club-record drought of 17 games in 1980.
Collins was more concerned with execution.
“They’re big league players. They should be able to do it,” he said. “I told the coaches, ‘We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to take responsibility for this.’ I mean, I’m the manager. It comes back on my shoulders. … Maybe I have to make some adjustments. And by God, they’ll be made. I don’t know if it comes with finding different players, but something’s going to be changed.”
McCutchen made a sensational catch that saved a run in the first inning, robbing Jason Bay of extra bases.
With a runner on third and two outs, the speedy McCutchen raced deep into the right-center gap and went sliding across the warning track to snare Bay’s long drive.
“He’s probably got 10 highlight-film plays already this year and that one would have to rank at the top, just for the distance covered,” Hurdle said. “It’s a major league play.”
McCutchen hit the fence legs first and held up his glove to show he had the ball. The video-board replay drew gasps from the crowd of 25,234.
“You don’t want to be running full speed into the wall,” McCutchen said. “I just needed something to slow me down. I was able to judge it pretty good and make a pretty good play.”
NOTES: Pittsburgh won four road series last season and three in 2009. … To make roster room for Reyes, the Mets placed RHP Taylor Buchholz on the 15-day DL after the game with fatigue in his pitching shoulder. The move is retroactive to May 30.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)