SAN FRANCISCO - Kevin Correia tossed almost as many pitches in a quick and efficient start as the bullpen did over the final three exhausting innings.
These days, nothing comes easy for the Pittsburgh Pirates - especially wins.
Correia pitched six effective innings, Garrett Jones homered and the Pirates ended a five-game losing skid with a 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Correia threw 91 pitches - only 29 balls - before three relievers labored with 76 pitches in a 3-hour, 15-minute game that seemed over so much sooner.
"That's probably not the way you draw it up," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
After a slow start, the Pirates will take a win any way they can.
Jones' first homer of the season and Alex Presley's RBI single during a two-run second inning off Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) supplied all the power Pittsburgh needed.
Tonight: Pittsburgh at Arizona, 9:40 p.m.
Pitchers: Pirates LHP Erik Bedard (0-2) vs. D-backs LHP Joe Saunders (0-0)
Correia (1-0) allowed one run and three hits. He was only nicked by Emmanuel Burriss' RBI grounder in the fifth to snap San Francisco's three-game winning streak.
"It's a big one. But any win at this point is big," Correia said.
Two relievers pitched scoreless ball before Joel Hanrahan worked out of a jam in the ninth for his first save this season.
Hanrahan walked two of the first three batters to bring the potential tying run to the plate with one out. He then got Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan on flyballs to ensure Pittsburgh avoided a second straight series sweep.
The victory also handed San Francisco a loss heading into Monday's marquee series against Philadelphia in a rematch of the 2010 NL championship series.
"It was a strange day. We just never got it going there and we seemed out of sorts," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants lost more than a game Sunday. All-Star closer Brian Wilson confirmed he's likely headed for season-ending surgery because of structural damage in his right elbow.
Wilson was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list, clearing space for Vogelsong to come off the DL and make his first start of the year. After the journeyman's breakout season at age 34 last summer, Vogelsong returned ready to recapture his touch.
Instead, Pittsburgh quickly reminded him how difficult an encore might be.
Jones pulled a solo home run over the right-field arcade and Presley lined a two-out single in the second to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.
Vogelsong settled into a rhythm following the shaky start, facing the minimum over the next 3 2-3 innings. The defense also backed his effort, highlighted by third baseman Pablo Sandoval's diving, over-the-shoulder catch in the top of his glove on Jones' foul pop in the sixth.
Vogelsong allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three.
"Just inconsistent," Vogelsong said. "Fighting myself all day just trying to find some kind of rhythm. I was kind of in-and-out today with it."
San Francisco's hitters struggled to be as effective.
Brandon Belt hit a line drive leading off the fifth that tipped off the top of the glove of a leaping Jones at first and trickled into the outfield. Belt barely beat out Jose Tabata's throw for a double, and scored from third on Burriss' groundout to short later in the inning for the Giants' lone run.
San Francisco's bullpen also struggled to keep it close.
Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee singled to open the Pittsburgh eighth against Dan Otero, who was lifted for lefty Jeremy Affeldt. Sandoval sailed the throw to first on Neil Walker's bunt, allowing McCutchen to score from second during a two-run eighth that extended Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1.
The victory also was the first away from home for Pittsburgh this year.
"We just wanted to win a game," Hurdle said. "This just happened to come on the road."