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Associated Press, Published June 19 2012

Diamond struggles as Pirates defeat Twins

PITTSBURGH – Scott Diamond can’t quite put his finger on it, but something feels off after the rookie left-hander’s hot start made him one of the few pleasant surprises for the Minnesota Twins.

The same could be said for the rest of his teammates.

Diamond labored through 5Zc largely ineffective innings in a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. He has dropped two straight decisions, and the Twins have lost five of six.

“I definitely was battling all night and just really wasn’t executing that well,” said Diamond (5-3). “I left a lot of pitches over the middle and up, and when that happens you get hit pretty hard.”

The Pirates took full advantage.

Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including his 12th homer of the season, and Josh Harrison and Clint Barmes added three hits apiece for Pittsburgh, which has won three straight to climb four games above .500 (35-31).

Kevin Correia (3-6) tossed 5Zc scoreless innings to win at home for the first time in nearly a year.

“I feel like I’ve thrown a lot better than last year at home,” Correia said. “I knew the (wins) would come. We’re starting to hit.”

Minnesota 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 in the home jersey. 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 while lifting Diamond’s ERA from 2.13 to 2.57.

“Something doesn’t feel completely right after that (hot) start and I think it’s just a little bit of work in the ’pen,” Diamond said. “I’ve got to refine the curveball a little bit, too. It just wasn’t coming out right today.”

Minnesota Pittsburgh

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Span cf 5 1 1 2 Tabata lf 5 0 0 0

Revere rf 4 0 0 0 JHrrsn rf 5 3 3 1

Wlngh lf 4 0 1 0 AMcCt cf 4 1 3 2

Mornea 1b 4 0 0 0 McGeh 1b 4 0 1 1

Plouffe 3b 3 0 2 0 Walker 2b 3 1 0 0

Doumit c 4 0 1 0 PAlvrz 3b 3 1 2 0

Dozier ss 4 0 1 0 Barajs c 3 0 0 1

JCarrll 2b 3 1 1 0 Barmes ss 4 1 3 1

Dimnd p 1 0 0 0 Correia p 1 0 0 0

AlBrntt p 0 0 0 0 Watson p 0 0 0 0

Parmel ph 1 0 0 0 Hague ph 1 0 0 1

Manshp p 0 0 0 0 J.Cruz p 0 0 0 0

Dunsng p 0 0 0 0 Resop p 0 0 0 0

ACasill ph 1 0 1 0

Totals 34 2 8 2 Totals 33 7 12 7

Minnesota 000 000 200— 2

Pittsburgh 100 012 30x— 7

LOB—Minnesota 9, Pittsburgh 9. 2B—A.McCutchen (12), P.Alvarez (12), Barmes (11). HR—Span (3), J.Harrison (2), A.McCutchen (12). SB—Revere (12), J.Harrison 2 (5), A.McCutchen (14). S—Diamond, Correia. SF—McGehee, Barajas.

IP H R ER BB SO

Minnesota

Diamond L,5-3 5Zc 8 4 4 2 1

Al.Burnett Xc 0 0 0 0 0

Manship Zc 2 3 3 1 1

Duensing 1Xc 2 0 0 1 0

Pittsburgh

Correia W,3-6 5Zc 4 0 0 1 2

Watson H,7 Xc 0 0 0 1 1

J.Cruz 1 2 2 2 0 1

Resop 2 2 0 0 1 1

WP—Al.Burnett.

T—3:10. A—19,936 (38,362).