The first batter Edinson Volquez faced this afternoon singled. The second one lined out hard to center field, and it looked as though Volquez might just be the pitchers the numbers last season said he was and not the better version of himself the Pirates believed he could be.

Then Volquez surged through the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup. He went toe-to-toe with Adam Wainwright, last year’s National League Cy Young runner-up. He pitched well enough for the Pirates to win, 2-1, at PNC Park.

Tony Sanchez’s double in the seventh inning scored Pedro Alvarez and broke a 1-1 tie, but it was Volquez, with some help from Tony Watson, who kept the game close.

The Pirates signed the 30-year-old Volquez to a one-year, $5 million contract during the winter meetings in December as their latest reclamation project of a pitcher with good stuff but several seasons removed from numbers that matched. He allowed more earned runs than any other pitcher in the National League in 2013, mostly while pitching with pitcher-friendly Petco Park as his home stadium as a member of the San Diego Padres.

Volquez allowed 17 runs and 19 hits in 14 innings in spring training. The Pirates signed him because they saw hope. They wanted him to keep his head more on line to the plate and land squarely on his left foot during his delivery rather than rolling onto its left edge.

Sunday, he was great. Matt Carpenter singled to start the game. Between Carpenter and the Chicago Cubs’ Emilio Bonifacio, the Pirates have allowed a single to start the game in each of their first six games this season. Matt Holliday reached on a fielder’s choice two batters later.