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CHC@PIT: Correia allows two runs on just four hits

After beginning the season 1-5, Pirates right-hander Kevin Correia won seven of his next eight decisions before the club demoted him to the bullpen following his July 25 start.

The move upset the 31-year-old so much that he hoped the Pirates would trade him before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But after making just one relief appearance, a meltdown outing on July 29 in which he allowed four runs in two innings, Correia will get another shot at starting when he takes the mound on Wednesday for the Pirates' third game of four against the D-backs.

"It was just a matter of getting over the disappointment," Correia said of the demotion. "Now I can still help this team reach the playoffs."

Even though the stakes are likely high, Correia doesn't think the circumstances will affect how he pitches, because he's been in a similar situation before, spot-starting for the Giants in 2007 and 2008.

"I'm not going out there trying to win a spot back," he said. "I'm going to take it as a regular start and go out there and try to win. I'm not going to put added pressure [on myself], thinking if I pitch well, I'm back in the rotation. It could be good, it could be bad -- it won't be because of the situation."

In that July 25 start, Correia surrendered just two runs over six innings to the Cubs in a 3-2 Pirates win.

Opposing Correia will be Ian Kennedy. In his previous outing, the 27-year-old D-backs ace defeated the Phillies by allowing two runs in six innings of work.

With just eight runs allowed over his past 28 1/3 innings, the right-hander seems to be in a bit of a groove.

A season removed from posting a 21-4 record, Kennedy had a good start to 2012 but struggled in May. He said the team's performance as a whole has helped him improve.

"When your team's scoring runs, it puts you in a good position to be more aggressive [and you don't] have to be so fine when you're pitching behind," Kennedy said. "That changes how you pitch. No matter what anybody tells you, it does change how you pitch, and you're more aggressive."

Pirates: Cruz makes first rehab outing
Reliever Juan Cruz made his first Minor League rehab appearance in Double-A Altoona on Monday night, starting for the Curve and giving up two runs in one-third of an inning.

The righty began the game with a strikeout before allowing hits to the following four batters.

"Basically, we wanted Juan to get out and pound the fastball -- the velocity was 91 to 94 [mph] -- and repeat his delivery and maintain an arm slot, and that's what he did," manager Clint Hurdle said on Tuesday.

Hurdle did not say when Cruz would make another appearance. That decision would likely come late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Cruz last pitched for the Pirates on July 17, in Colorado. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder on July 21, retroactive to July 18.

D-backs: Blanco to have surgery
The D-backs' fears were confirmed when an MRI performed on catcher Henry Blanco's left thumb showed a torn ligament. Blanco will undergo surgery, performed by hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan, on Wednesday in Phoenix.

Manager Kirk Gibson said that the team will have a better idea of when Blanco could return after the extent of the damage is determined during surgery. Indications are that he could miss the rest of the regular season.

"I don't know what the exact timetable is, but it will put him toward the end of it, for sure," Gibson said.

The D-backs claimed veteran catcher Wil Nieves off waivers on Monday to take Blanco's place.

Worth noting
• Triple-A Reno right-hander Trevor Bauer tossed six scoreless innings, with five hits and five strikeouts, in a 2-1 win at Iowa on Monday. It was his first start since July 22.

• When leading after seven innings, the Pirates are 53-1.

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