PITTSBURGH – Aaron Cunningham's triple started San Diego on a four-run second inning and the first-place Padres again took advantage of an early lead and their strong bullpen to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 on Friday night.
Kevin Correia (7-6) gave up three runs, two earned, over six innings to win his second in a row after going winless in seven starts. Correia also contributed a run-scoring single as the Padres jumped out to their 4-0 lead against Paul Maholm (6-8), ending the left-hander's streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings.
Getting ahead early is a trademark of these surprising Padres, whose 56-39 record is the NL's best. They are 42-15 when scoring first, but 14-24 when they don't.
With Adrian Gonzalez, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Will Venable hitting sacrifice flies, the Padres also improved their NL-best road record to 26-20, even after losing six of their previous nine since July 6.
Cunningham's leadoff triple in the second was followed by a walk, two singles including Correia's sharply hit RBI single into left field, Chris Denorfia's run-scoring double and the Hairston and Gonzalez sacrifice flies.
Pittsburgh, losing its fourth in eight games at home since the All-Star break, managed to get within 4-3 with the help of Lastings Milledge's two-run single in the fourth and Ronny Cedeno's leadoff double in the fifth. But a Padres bullpen that easily leads the NL with a 2.84 ERA closed out Pittsburgh with three scoreless innings — one each by Ernesto Frieri, Luke Gregerson and Heath Bell.
Bell finished up in the ninth for his 28th save in 31 opportunities as San Diego improved to 5-2 since the break.
The Padres loaded the bases in the seventh on three walks in a row by reliever Brendan Donnelly, who threw only one of his 13 pitches for strikes, but scored just once on Venable's sacrifice fly.
Pirates rookie Neil Walker went hitless in three at-bats with a walk following six consecutive multiple-hit games. No Pirates batter has had seven such games in a row since Barry Bonds in September 1992.
The Pirates thought they had a run in the first, but Jose Tabata was called out on a delayed tag by catcher Yorvit Torrealba while trying to score on Garrett Jones' grounder. Manager John Russell argued Tabata swiped his fingertips across the plate before being tagged.
Sean Gallagher, picked up by Pittsburgh from the Padres for cash on July 7, pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
NOTES: Padres RH Mat Latos (10-4, 2.45) will come off the disabled list Saturday to make his first start since July 8. He pitched 15 scoreless innings in his two most recent starts before straining a muscle on his left side while trying to stifle a sneeze. ... The crowd on a 91-degree night was 18,611 — one of the Pirates' worst turnouts on a midsummer Friday night since they moved into PNC Park in 2001. ... The Padres are 21-9 in PNC Park and haven't lost a series in Pittsburgh since 2000, when the Pirates played in Three Rivers Stadium. ... Gonzalez is 1 for 13 in his last four games, but walked three times, scored once and drove in a run.