CHICAGO -- The tarp stayed on the field Monday night for longer than the average baseball game, but the Pirates and Chicago Cubs eventually played on, even through multiple storm fronts.
Perhaps a rain delay of 3 hours, 37 minutes is the precise amount of time Kevin Correia prefers, because he took the mound with purpose. His strong outing earned the Pirates a 3-0 win at Wrigley Field and a series split with the Cubs.
"I worked quick and threw a lot of strikes," Correia said. "I was keeping the ball on the ground, not too many fly balls."
Correia (11-9) struck out six batters in seven scoreless innings, tying his season high set July 14 against the Brewers. Darwin Barney had the only two hits Correia allowed in the game, but Clint Barmes erased him on a double play both times.
"With the game starting at 10:40 [p.m.], hitters are going to be aggressive," Correia said.
A couple thousand resolute and chilly Cubs fans stuck it out for the evening's proceedings, which ended at 1:28 a.m. local time. For them and the Cubs, the game was one more on the march to the end of a rebuilding season, but the Pirates, who remain, however improbably, in the wild card race, needed the win. They avoided dropping their record to .500 before heading home for a series with the surging Milwaukee Brewers, who are, also improbably, fighting for a playoff spot.
In the spirit of the strange evening, Correia struck out the side in the first inning. He had struck out three or fewer batters in 21 of his first 28 appearances this season.
"You could argue this is the best game he's pitched all year," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was the start we needed. Very good outing by Kevin tonight."
The Pirates hardly relaxed during the delay. Hurdle and bench coach Jeff Banister game-planned for the upcoming Brewers series. Some players watched video, while others met with the coaching staff for individual work. Correia watched the Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons.
Cubs starter Travis Wood (6-12) became the latest opposing starter to set a career high in strikeouts against the Pirates. His nine punch-outs in 5 2/3 innings surpassed his previous high of eight. He allowed three runs on four hits. Cubs pitchers struck out 15 Pirates, a season high for Chicago.
Starling Marte tripled for the third game in a row to score two runs in the third. Jose Tabata doubled to the wall in dead center, scoring Marte, and the Pirates had a 3-0 lead.
Jason Grilli pitched a perfect eighth inning and Joel Hanrahan saved his 36th game.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 18, 2012 6:30 AM