The Pittsburgh Pirates saw just one starter record a win in 18 games against the Milwaukee Brewers last season, so it wasn't hard to believe they finished 2010 without a pitcher reaching 10 victories.
Kevin Correia seems well on his way to making sure that doesn't happen again.
Correia has been excellent in his first two outings, and he'll try to become the first Pirate to win his first three starts since 2003 on Tuesday night against the visiting Brewers.
The Pirates only got 34 wins from their starters last season, tied for the third-fewest from an NL team in a 162-game season since 1989.
They were at their worst against Milwaukee, going 1-10 with a 7.40 ERA as the Brewers took 13 of 18.
That ineptitude is what led the Pirates to give Correia a two-year, $8 million deal, and through two starts, that's looked like a bargain. The veteran right-hander gave up two earned run over six innings in a 6-3 win at Chicago on April 1, then tossed seven scoreless innings to outduel St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter in a 3-1 victory Wednesday.
"He was very much in control, moving it around - inside, outside, cutting, sinking," second baseman Neil Walker told the Pirates' official website. "He was really, really good (against St. Louis), and he was good on opening day in Chicago. I think that's a big confidence booster for him, too, and the way he looked is very encouraging."
Correia (2-0, 1.29 ERA) even pitched a perfect inning of relief Saturday in a 6-4 loss to Colorado, a night after the bullpen was taxed from a 14-inning victory.
After winning its first two road series, Pittsburgh (5-5) dropped three of four at home against the Rockies, falling 6-5 on Sunday.
Correia has a chance to become the first Pirate to win his first three starts since Jeff Suppan opened 4-0 in 2003. He's 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts versus Milwaukee since 2007.
The Brewers come to Pittsburgh still looking for their first road victory after dropping their opening three-game set in Cincinnati, but they've recovered nicely from an 0-4 start that included a loss in their home opener.
A 6-5, come-from-behind victory over the Cubs on Sunday was Milwaukee's fifth in six games to close its homestand.
"It was a fantastic homestand, it really was," said closer John Axford, who has bounced back from a four-run ninth on opening day with four scoreless outings and three saves. "We really battled a lot. We got some fantastic pitching, some fantastic offense and defense."
Should the Brewers (5-5) call on Axford in the next three days, they should feel comfortable. He gave up one hit and struck out eight in four appearances spanning 5 2-3 innings last season at Pittsburgh.
Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.22) has never faced the Pirates, and he should come in feeling confident after bouncing back from a rough first NL start. Marcum walked five and didn't make it through the fifth against the Reds on April 2, but he held Atlanta to two runs over six innings in a 4-2 win Thursday.
"(Marcum) did what we hope he does - keep us in the game, go six or seven innings, and give us an opportunity to win," outfielder Ryan Braun told the team's official website.
Braun, who has hit four home runs, batted .368 with six homers and 18 RBIs versus Pittsburgh last season while Prince Fielder went deep eight times.
Pittsburgh outfielder Jose Tabata has hit safely in all 10 games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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