PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pirates manager John Russell needed a strong start from Paul Maholm after his team fell behind early in the first two games of a weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Russell got what he hoped for and more from Maholm, who tossed a two-hitter Sunday to help Pittsburgh beat the Phillies 5-1 and avoid a three-game sweep."Strong starting pitching is something we've been looking for," Russell said. "But you don't expect someone to go nine. It was a huge lift for us."Maholm (2-2) walked four and struck out two in his third career complete game. He improved to 2-0 in three starts at PNC Park this season and has allowed just two runs in 20 1/3 innings at home."My main goal was to just go out there, deliver some quality innings, and give the bullpen a rest," Maholm said.Both of Philadelphia's hits came in the fifth inning. Pat Burrell doubled with one out and scored on Eric Bruntlett's single to center."I felt like we hit a few balls good, but they caught them all," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "But I give Maholm credit, he pitched a good game. He threw strikes, and he forced us to swing the bat."Maholm threw 99 pitches, 56 for strikes. It was his first complete game since Aug. 13 against San Francisco, also at PNC Park, according to the Elias Sports Bureau."It's a little nerve-racking, being out there in the ninth," Maholm said. "But when you throw the final pitch, and it's an easy out, then it's fun. You can enjoy it."Nate McLouth hit two home runs for the Pirates, which collected 12 hits against Brett Myers (2-2) and three relievers.McLouth led off the first with a home run and later added a two-run shot in the fifth that gave the Pirates a 4-1 lead. McLouth has six homers this season, including three in the past two games.McLouth went 2-for-4 with a walk to raise his batting average to .333. He has reached base in 23 of 25 games this season."It was obviously a sorely needed win," McLouth said after the Pirates won for just the third time in 12 games. "I got a couple of good pitches to hit, and I didn't miss them. [Maholm] gave us the start we needed. What more could you ask for from him? He's the story."Jose Bautista had three hits and an RBI, and Luis Rivas, Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay had two hits for the Pirates.Philadelphia, which was looking for its first sweep at PNC Park, had won three straight.Myers (2-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out five. Myers, who dropped to 0-3 in his career in Pittsburgh, had pitched at least seven innings in his past three starts.Myers has now given up 10 home runs after allowing nine all of last season.Manual said Myers' biggest trouble was his velocity. Myers' fastball topped out at 89 mph."He's usually 92-95 mph, somewhere in there," Manuel said. "Right now, he's throwing a lot of cutters. If he throws those cutters in on left-handed hitters [like McLouth], and you don't get it way in, there's a good chance the ball will end up in the seats."
Maholm did not travel with the Pirates as they left for a three-game against the New York Mets. His wife, Jessica, is pregnant with the couple's first child and is expected to be induced Monday. ... McLouth's multihomer game was the second of his career. His second homer was the 500th hit by a Pittsburgh player at PNC Park, which opened in 2001. ... Pittsburgh didn't allow a baserunner in the first inning for just the fourth time this season. ... Pittsburgh OF Xavier Nady went 0-for-4, ending his 14-game hitting streak. ... Philadelphia CF Jayson Werth threw out Bautista at home to end the fourth inning.