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Pirates drop Twins 7-2 for 3rd straight win

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Correia throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of an interleague baseball game on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Correia throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of an interleague baseball game on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer / June 19, 2012
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PITTSBURGH—Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including his 12th homer of the season, and Kevin Correia ended a lengthy winless streak at PNC Park as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2 on Tuesday night.

Correia (3-6), pitched 5 1-3 shutout innings, allowing four hits to go with a walk and two strikeouts to earn his first victory at home in nearly a year.

Josh Harrison and Clint Barmes added three hits apiece for Pittsburgh, which has won three straight to climb four games above .500 (35-31).

Scott Diamond (5-3) gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings to lose his second straight start. Denard Span hit a two-run homer for the Twins, who have dropped four of five.

The Twins began the night with the highest batting average in interleague play (.306) but mustered little against Correia.

Correia was an All-Star last year after earning 11 wins before the break, but since then has been in an 11-month funk -- winning only three of his previous 20 starts, dating to last July. None of those came at home, where he had been 0-6 since beating the Orioles on June 22, 2011.

For one night anyway, Correia looked comfortable. Though hardly overpowering, Correia kept the ball away from the middle of the plate while grinding through 97 pitches.

Correia's only trouble spot came in the sixth inning, when a walk and a single put runners on the corners with one out, and he gave way to Tony Watson. The Twins loaded the bases before Watson struck out former Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit to end the threat.

Diamond wasn't nearly as crisp. The 25-year-old pitcher has been one of the few good stories this season for the underachieving Twins. He won five of his first seven starts thanks to impeccable control.

He had issues in a loss to the Phillies last week and kept the ball in the strike zone a little too much against the Pirates, who no longer look like one of the weakest offensive teams in the majors. Diamond gave up four runs, walked two and struck out one as his ERA rose from 2.13 to 2.57.

Pittsburgh, which was last in nearly every major statistical category for the first two months of the season, is third in the National League in runs scored in June, adding to the total on a night the ball had little trouble carrying through the oppressive heat.

Harrison gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the first with help from Minnesota leftfielder Josh Willingham. Harrison smacked Diamond's fastball toward the wall in left.

Willingham initially broke forward before giving chase. He leaped just as the ball caromed off the top of the wall. Instead of grabbing it, however, Willingham could only watch as the ball deflected into the stands for Harrison's second homer of the season.

Casey McGehee's sacrifice fly in the fifth gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead, and Pittsburgh pushed it to 4-0 an inning later. Barmes, who lifted his batting average to .200 for the first time this season, doubled in Pedro Alvarez, and Matt Hague grounded into a fielders' choice.

Span's two-run homer briefly made it interesting before McCutchen responded with a two-run shot of his own.

NOTES: Minnesota C Joe Mauer didn't play while nursing a bruised right quad. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer could have pinch-hit if necessary but "couldn't run." ... Twins closer Matt Capps was also rested but said he is close to 100 percent after having inflammation in his right (throwing) shoulder in a loss to Milwaukee last Friday. ... The Pirates are 16-2 this season when they have at least 10 hits in a game. ... The series continues on Wednesday as Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard (4-7, 4.36 ERA) faces Minnesota's Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.24).

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