PITTSBURGH -- Paul Maholm wasn't thrilled with his start Friday night against the Atlanta Braves. He was pleased with the outcome.
Maholm combined with two relievers on a six-hitter and the Pittsburgh Pirates handed Atlanta its fourth straight loss with a 3-0 victory.Maholm (2-0) allowed four hits in seven innings and lowered his ERA to 0.87 in winning his first home start of the season. But he struggled with his command throughout, working around three walks, two hit batters and a balk."For a little bit, I lost my rhythm," said Maholm, who threw 57 of his 102 pitches for strikes and beat Atlanta for the first time in three career starts. "But it didn't hurt me. If you go seven innings, it's a good game."The Braves' best scoring chance against Maholm came in the second. Brian McCann was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Jeff Francoeur and Martin Prado singled to load the bases. Casey Kotchman then hit a line drive that was inches from being fair."That was just luck," Maholm said.Kotchman eventually was called out on the infield fly rule after his popup was dropped by catcher Ryan Doumit, and Jordan Schafer bounced into a 1-2-3 double play."Kotchman almost cleared the bases," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "It was just one of those nights."Maholm also got Omar Infante to fly out to right with two outs and runners on first and second in the fifth. He improved to 12-3 in his last 23 starts at PNC Park dating to 2007."Paul did a good job tonight," Pirates manager John Russell said. "He wasn't as sharp, but he found a way to get outs. He's got enough confidence in himself that's he capable of being OK even when things aren't going right."John Grabow allowed two hits in the eighth inning, and Matt Capps pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.Jair Jurrjens (2-1) struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings for Atlanta. He allowed one run and four hits in a career-high 120-pitch outing."He pitched great," Cox said. "His location was good all night. His pitch count was fine for this time of the year."Andy LaRoche drove in Pittsburgh's first run with a groundout in the second and Nate McLouth hit his third homer off Mike Gonzalez in the eighth to make it 3-0."That was a big boost," Russell said. "You never know with a one-run game going into the ninth inning. That gave us some breathing room. It was a huge hit for Nate against a left-hander."McLouth said Gonzalez left a fastball out over the plate."I think it was a mistake on his part," he said. "It was nice to get those two runs."
Jeff Francoeur had three hits for Atlanta and is batting .526 (10-for-19) over his past five games. ... Atlanta will call up LHP Jo-Jo Reyes from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Saturday's game against Pittsburgh. A corresponding roster move will be made before the game. ... Braves 3B Chipper Jones missed his third consecutive game with a bruised left thumb. ... Braves SS Yunel Escobar, who left Thursday's game against Florida with a strained abdominal muscle, did not play. ... Pirates SS Jack Wilson was a late scratch for the second time in three games because of a bruised left middle finger. He was replaced by Ramon Vazquez. ... Pittsburgh has won five of six games against Atlanta at PNC Park. ... Delwyn Young, acquired by the Pirates in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, popped out as a pinch hitter to end the seventh in his first at-bat with the team.