SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates' offensive issues Monday night overshadowed any extenuating circumstances surrounding their pitching staff.
Before the game, the Pirates cut ties with one pitcher and added two more to bolster a staff that pitched 19 innings the previous afternoon. The pitching staff held up, but received little support from the offense.
The Pirates struck out 13 times in a 3-1 loss Monday night to the San Diego Padres in the opening game of the series at Petco Park. They remained 6 1/2 games back of the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division after the Reds lost earlier Monday to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Edinson Volquez baffled the Pirates through 6 2/3 innings. He exited the game in the seventh after allowing a double to Jose Tabata and walking Travis Snider, who had struck out in each of his first three at-bats. Volquez allowed one run on five hits. His 10 strikeouts tied his season high.
The Pirates got 4 1/3 innings from Kevin Correia, who started Monday after pitching two innings Sunday and throwing 24 pitches.
"He's pitched here, he's had success here, he knows the team," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Correia, who pitched for the Padres in 2009-10 before joining the Pirates.
Correia allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits. He threw 72 pitches, right in the neighborhood of the 75 pitches Hurdle said was a possibility before the game.
Correia became the first Pirates pitcher since Pascual Perez in 1981 to appear in relief before starting in a game the following day.
The Padres hit Correia hard, but he only allowed runs in the first two innings. Everth Cabrera led off the first with a double to the left-center field gap. Will Venable's single, which glanced off the glove of a diving Clint Barmes, scored Cabrera.
Chase Headley grounded out, but Correia hit Carlos Quentin with an 0-2 pitch. Yasmani Grandal grounded out, scoring Venable to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.
Volquez struck out four of the first seven batters he faced.
Correia allowed another run in the second. Cameron Maybin singled and Volquez's sacrifice bunt pushed Maybin to second. He took third on Cabrera's grounder to third, narrowly beating Pedro Alvarez, who slid to field the ball near the baseline, to the bag. Venable's second hit of the game scored Maybin.
Correia allowed a leadoff single to Quentin in the third and Grandal reached on an error, but Correia kept the runners from scoring. He came back with a perfect fourth. Correia batted for himself in the fifth and returned to pitch in the bottom half.
Correia allowed a single and a walk in the fifth before Hurdle removed him in favor of left-hander Tony Watson, who entered to face the left-handed Yonder Alonso and Alexi Amarista with one out. Alonso flied out to the warning track and Amarista struck out, preventing the Padres from scoring.
Volquez continued to cruise. He allowed one hit in the third and another in the fourth, but struck out the side in the fifth.
Chase Headley bare-handed McCutchen's grounder in the sixth and threw the ball away, allowing McCutchen to reach second. McCutchen scored on Neil Walker's single to cut the Padres' lead to 3-1.
Kyle McPherson, who joined the Pirates from Class AAA Indianapolis Monday, made his major league debut in the sixth. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two.
The Pirates did not have Chris Resop or Jared Hughes available, so they recalled McPherson and Justin Wilson before the game. Wilson made his debut in the eighth and struck out three, though he allowed two singles. Both pitchers reached 94 mph with their fastballs.