Cubs Beat the Braves by LaHair – Cubs 1, Braves 0

Game Thirty-One – Cubs 1, Braves 0
WP – Paul Maholm (4-2) LP – Tim Hudson (1-1) Save – Rafael Dolis (3)

wflag.jpgPitching, defense and timely hitting win ballgames and Sveum’s Cubs found the right mix of all three in Wednesday’s shutout victory over the Braves.

Paul Maholm picked up where Jeff Samardzija and Ryan Dempster left off. Maholm tossed seven innings of scoreless ball and limited the high-powered Braves’ offense to just three hits. Maholm walked three and struck out three on 95 pitches, 64 for strikes. Maholm kept everything down Wednesday. Of the 21 outs Maholm recorded, 15 were on the ground and another one of the keys to Maholm’s success Wednesday was he retired the leadoff hitter in each of his seven innings.

After a miserable start, Paul Maholm has won his last four starts while defeating the likes of Roy Halladay, Chad Billingsley and Tim Hudson in the process.

James Russell (no runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout) pitched his way out of a two-out jam in the eighth and Rafael Dolis sat down Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann in order in the ninth (14 pitches, nine for strikes) for his third save of the season.

Cubs’ pitching did an excellent job in the series win over the Braves. Atlanta scored 29 runs last weekend in three games in Colorado and Sveum’s staff held them to four runs (starters allowed two runs) in 27 innings. Wednesday was the Cubs 19th quality start in 31 games.

The Cubs defensive positioning once again played a huge role. Paul Maholm pitched to his defense but balls that were hits in years past continued being loud outs on Wednesday.

Bryan LaHair (2-for-3 with a RBI) delivered the big hit again, a two-out single against the shift in the seventh that plated David DeJesus (1-for-3 with a run scored) with the game’s only run. LaHair notched his first hit leading off the second that ran his streak to 27 games in which he has reached base safely via a hit or a walk.

The Cubs were very aggressive against Tim Hudson and allowed him to throw only 73 pitches, 51 for strikes, in seven innings. Only two Cubs reached third base Wednesday … one scored and the other was thrown out at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside the park home run. Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a triple) was thrown out at the plate to end the fourth. Darwin Barney (1-for-3) managed the Cubs only other hit as the offense tallied five hits and finished the game 1-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left one on base.

The Cubs finished the homestand with a 4-2 record against the Dodgers and Braves and beat Tim Hudson for the first time (2-1). The Cubs have now won or tied their last five series and are 9-6 in their last 15 games.

With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs are 13-18 on the season …

Paul Maholm came out throwing strikes Wednesday afternoon. Maholm gave up a two-out single to Freddie Freeman in the first, but that was all. Maholm threw nine pitches in the first, seven for strikes.

Tim Hudson also threw nine pitches, seven for strikes, in the first … but he retired the Cubs in order.

Starlin Castro took a hit away from Chipper Jones to start the second. The Cubs’ defensive positioning took more hits away from Jones in his last game at Wrigley. Maholm then retired Heyward and struck out David Ross swinging to end the second.

Bryan LaHair led off the second with a single to center. Tim Hudson ended up facing the minimum after Ian Stewart grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Geovany Soto grounded out to short for the third out.

Maholm sat down the Braves in order in the third. After three, Maholm had faced only one over the minimum.

The Cubs did nothing in the bottom of the third.

The Braves started putting together long at bats against Maholm in the fourth. Martin Prado grounded out to second to start the inning (3-2 pitch). Freeman walked (3-2 pitch) but Dan Uggla hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth.

Tim Hudson made quick work of DeJesus and Campana to start the bottom of the fourth. Starlin Castro then ripped a 0-2 pitch into right. Jason Heyward tried to make a diving catch but came up short. The ball hit off the side wall and ricocheted back into the field and ended up rolling all the way to the ivy. Castro rounded the bases after a slow start. Pat Listach waved him in but Heyward made a perfect throw to Dan Uggla. Uggla’s throw was up the third baseline but in plenty of time to nail Castro before he had a chance to slide. Castro ended up with his most ho-hum triple of the season for his effort.

After four, there was still no score.

Chipper Jones grounded out to Barney in the shift to start the fifth. Maholm then walked Jason Heyward. David Ross hit a high fly into center that Campana lost. The ball fell in, Ross ended up with a single and the Braves appeared to be in business. With runners on first and second with one out, Jack Wilson fouled out to LaHair and Hudson grounded out to LaHair to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing, quickly, in the fifth.

After Michael Bourn grounded out to short to start the sixth, Martin Prado ripped a double down the right field line. Freeman grounded out to second, Prado advanced to third with two down. Maholm then walked Dan Uggla.

Chipper Jones lined out to Darwin Barney, in the shift, to end the sixth. Maholm threw 88 pitches in six innings, 58 for strikes.

Adrian Cardenas led off the Cubs’ sixth by grounding out to second. Darwin Barney reached on a single to center but after a meeting with Listach, Paul Maholm swung away and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Paul Maholm retired Heyward, Ross and Wilson in order in the top of the seventh.

David DeJesus led off the seventh with a single to left center. Tony Campana bunted him to second. Starlin Castro hit Hudson’s first pitch to Freeman. DeJesus ended up at third with two outs.

Bryan LaHair hit the first pitch past Jack Wilson and into left center. DeJesus scored … 1-0 Cubs. LaHair beat the shift and put his team on the board. Stewart grounded out to second (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

After seven, the Cubs led 1-0.

Paul Maholm took the hill to start the eighth. After Fredi Gonzalez committed to Tyler Pastornicky, Dale Sveum made his way to the mound. Maholm was lifted, left to a loud ovation and James Russell took over.

Russell retired Pastornicky (struck out swinging) and Bourn (grounded out to second) but Martin Prado pulled a 1-2 pitch past Stewart into left. Russell then walked Freddie Freeman. Sveum left Russell into face Dan Uggla with runners on first and second with two outs. Uggla flied out to right to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Kris Medlen in the eighth.

Rafael Dolis took the hill to start the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Chipper Jones flied out to left (3-2 pitch) in his last at bat at Wrigley. Jason Heyward grounded out to third (0-1 pitch). Brian McCann hit for David Ross and grounded out to short (2-2 pitch) for the 27th out … Cubs Win!

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Thursday is an off day for Sveum’s Cubs. The Cubs begin a five-game road trip Friday night in Milwaukee … Matt Garza is scheduled to face Randy Wolf in game one.

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Quote of the Day

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