Maholm Keeps Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ – Cubs 5, Pirates 1

Game Ninety-Six – Cubs 5, Pirates 1
WP – Paul Maholm (9-6) LP – James McDonald (10-4) Save – None

wflag.jpgPaul Maholm posted a career-high fifth win in a row and beat his old team for the first time with a tremendous eight-inning effort on Tuesday night. Maholm allowed one run on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts on 109 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Paul Maholm retired the leadoff hitter in each of the first seven innings, did not allow his second hit until the seventh and the Pirates put two runners on base at the same only once in Maholm’s eight innings. Maholm made only one mistake, a solo homer off the bat of Garrett Jones in the fourth that tied the game at one.

After David DeJesus (1-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a walk) broke the tie in the top of the fifth with a bases loaded, two-out, two-run double, Maholm was very aggressive and went right after his former teammates.

Paul Maholm became the first Cubs’ left handed pitcher since 1918 to complete at least six innings and allow one or fewer runs in five straight starts.

Carlos Marmol worked around a leadoff double by Neil Walker and a walk to Andrew McCutchen without allowing any runs in the ninth.

Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a home run) and Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) were responsible for three of the Cubs’ five runs with two swings of the bat. Castro launched his ninth home run of the season, a solo homer in the first that gave the Cubs an early lead.

Alfonso Soriano has driven in four of the Cubs’ seven runs in the first two games of the series. Soriano gave Maholm a lot of breathing room with his 19th longball of the season (all since May 15) in the sixth. Soriano’s two run shot put the Cubs up by four.

Alfonso Soriano (359) passed Yogi Berra for 77th on the All-Time home run list with the two-run homer in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game.

The Cubs defense was very good once again Tuesday. Sveum’s team turned two more double plays … one behind Maholm in the eighth and the other in the ninth that ended the game.

With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 40-56 on the season …

James McDonald started the game by catching David DeJesus looking at a 1-2 pitch. Starlin Castro drove the first pitch over the wall in right center. Castro’s ninth homer of the season put the Cubs up 1-0. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to first and Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

Paul Maholm retired the Pirates in order in the first on 11 pitches, seven for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against James McDonald in the second. McDonald threw 25 pitches in the first two innings, 11 for strikes.

The Pirates went down in order in the second. Maholm needed 25 pitches, 16 for strikes, to get through two innings.

James McDonald kept the Cubs off balance in the third and make quick work of the bottom of the lineup.

Paul Maholm retired Rod Barajas (pop out to right) and Clint Barmes (groundout to short) to begin the third. Maholm then lost his command and walked James McDonald. Maholm refocused and struck out Drew Sutton swinging to end the inning. Maholm threw 49 pitches, 29 for strikes, over four innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth. After four innings, McDonald had retired 11 in a row.

Maholm retired Neil Walker (groundout to third) and McCutchen (flyout to center) to begin the bottom of the fourth. Garrett Jones stepped in and launched a 1-2 pitch to deep right. Jones’ 14th homer of the season was the Pirates’ first hit and tied the game at one. Andrew McCutchen lined out to center to end the fourth … 68 pitches for Maholm after four, 39 for strikes.

After four, the game was tied at one.

Bryan LaHair led off the fifth with a flyout to center, 12 in a row retired by McDonald. Geovany Soto followed with a walk (3-2 pitch). A wild pitch on the first offering to Barney allowed Soto to advance ninety feet. Barney lined out to third for the second out.

McDonald tried to get Luis Valbuena to chase early in the at bat. After Valbuena took two out of the zone, McDonald issued the last two intentionally and walked Valbuena. With runners on first and second, two outs and the game tied at one, Paul Maholm walked on four pitches to load the bases.

David DeJesus pulled a 0-1 pitch down the right field line and into the corner. Soto lumbered in with Valbuena right behind him and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead on DeJesus’ double. With runners on second and third and two out, Starlin Castro grounded out to Walker in the shift behind second to end the inning.

Paul Maholm put together a shutdown inning in the bottom of the fifth … 1-2-3 for Maholm and the Cubs led 3-1 after five complete.

Anthony Rizzo led off the sixth with a single to center. Rizzo then got a running lead and swiped second with Soriano at the plate … but it would not matter. Soriano launched a 1-1 breaking ball into the bleachers in left and just like that the Cubs’ led 5-1. LaHair grounded out to first and Soto struck out swinging following Soriano’s blast. Darwin Barney singled to right but Valbuena grounded out to second to end the inning.

Paul Maholm kept mowing down his former teammates in the sixth. Maholm retired the side in order … 81 pitches for Maholm after six, 50 for strikes.

Jared Hughes replaced McDonald in the seventh and struck out Maholm to start the inning. David DeJesus reached on an error that was charged to Hughes. DeJesus pulled a 2-1 pitch toward first. Casey McGehee fielded the ball and threw behind Hughes as he tried to cover the bag. DeJesus reached then swiped second on a 1-2 pitch to Castro … replays showed DeJesus was out. Castro ended up striking out and Rizzo grounded out to second for the third out.

Paul Maholm worked his way in and out of his first jam in the seventh. Maholm caught McCutchen looking to begin the inning then struck out Garrett Jones swinging for the second out. Casey McGehee stepped in and recorded the Pirates second hit of the night, a single to left. Pedro Alvarez blooped a 1-2 pitch into left for a single. With runners on first and second, two out and the Cubs up by four, Maholm retired Rod Barajas on a flyout to left to end the inning … 97 pitches for Maholm after seven, 61 for strikes.

Brad Lincoln ended up facing the minimum in the eighth after giving up a leadoff bloop single to right to Alfonso Soriano. LaHair was caught looking and Geovany Soto grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Paul Maholm started the eighth and gave up an infield single to Clint Barmes. Castro tried to field the smash and bobbled the ball twice … but Gorkys Hernandez rapped into a 6-4-3 double play and Drew Sutton struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning and Maholm’s night.

The Cubs went to the ninth up 5-1.

Evan Meek made quick work of Darwin Barney and Luis Valbuena to start the ninth. Reed Johnson hit for Maholm and reached on a single to center. Johnson lined a 2-2 pitch into center that McCutchen dove for but could not make the catch. Johnson got a running lead on a 2-1 pitch to DeJesus and stole second. DeJesus ended up walking to put two on with two out for Starlin Castro. Castro flied out to right center to end the inning.

Tony Campana took over for LaHair in right and Reed Johnson stayed in and replaced Soriano in left … and Carlos Marmol took over on the hill.

Neil Walker greeted Marmol with a double into the right field corner (2-2 pitch). Marmol then walked McCutchen (the 36th game in a row McCutchen has reached bases against the Cubs). Garrett Jones flied out to Reed Johnson in deep left … and Casey McGehee grounded into a 6-4-3 double play (Castro-to-Barney-to-Rizzo) to end the game.

Cubs improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight series with Tuesday’s win.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Kevin Correia in the finale on Wednesday morning.

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