If this was Kevin Correia's swan song as a Pirate, he sure hit all the right notes.
Correia was strong in what was likely his last start for the Pirates, striking out five batters in 6 2/3 innings as the Pirates defeated the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, Tuesday night.
A free agent this offseason, Correia allowed one earned run and six hits.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Correia's tenure in Pittsburgh was mostly positive. He was the team's opening day starter in 2011 and was an injury replacement on the All-Star team that season.
"He was a guy that wanted to be more than a No. 5 [starter], and we gave him that opportunity," Hurdle said. "He's come in and pitched well."
In two seasons with the Pirates, Correia went 24-22 with a 4.49 ERA. He finished this season 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA. When he left the mound with two outs in the sixth, many of the 15,727 in attendance at PNC Park rose to their feet in tribute to a pitcher often criticized by the fan base for his inconsistency.
Neither side seems inclined to extend the relationship. Correia asked for and the Pirates pursued a trade after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez before the trade deadline. But they found little interest for Correia.
He said Tuesday he has given little thought to his future.
"I don't think about any contract stuff or where I'm going to be at or anything like that until after my last start," Correia said. "It doesn't really feel like this season's going to be over in a couple days, coming in today knowing you've got to pitch."
The Pirates briefly moved Correia to the bullpen after the deal.
"I was stymied through this process that there wasn't any interest at the point in time when we made the [Wandy] move," Hurdle said. "Would I think there'd be vested interest in him in the offseason? I would. Obviously, I don't speak for the industry because I was shown blankly how wrong I could be at one particular point in time."
Though Correia likely does not factor into the Pirates' future plans, Hurdle said he earned a spot in the rotation the past month and gave the Pirates a good chance of winning.
With the victory, the Pirates (79-82) match their win total from the 1997 season, their highest win total in a 20-year streak of losing seasons.
For a second consecutive night, Starling Marte sparked the offense, going 3 for 5 with a double, two runs and two stolen bases. He scored all the Pirates runs in a 2-1 victory Monday.
Hurdle said Marte has responded well since he was kept out of the lineup for a few consecutive games, or as Hurdle calls it, "unplugging" a player.
"At-bats have been cleaner," Hurdle said. "He's seeing the ball a little bit better, not as many chases down. He stayed on a couple breaking balls and hit them well."
Garrett Jones hit his 27th home run of the season, a career high for a player who started the season splitting time at first base with Casey McGehee.
"I think overall I feel good about being more consistent just overall consistency on the plate and on defense," Jones said.
"It's helped me just help the team win and be able to go out there more regularly and help the team. That meant a lot. That's what got me in the lineup more and kept me in the lineup."
Jones' two-run homer in the fifth gave the Pirates a four-run lead.
"I got jammed on a fastball my last at-bat a little bit and wanted to make sure I got the head out [on a] 2-0 [count]," he said.
"I got the fastball over the plate and was able to put the good part of the bat on it."
Tommy Hanson took the loss for the Braves (93-68), allowing five earned runs and nine hits in six innings.
Marte scored his second run of the game in the fifth to put the Pirates up by two runs.
After Marte reached first with a leadoff single and stole second, Alex Presley doubled to left-center, scoring Marte to make it 3-1.pirates
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published October 3, 2012 4:00 AM