Cubs 1, Braves 0

Paul Maholm’s rocky start with the Chicago Cubs is all but

forgotten. After giving up 12 runs and 12 hits over eight innings

in his first two outings, Maholm has more than settled down.

He has become one of the team’s best pitchers.

Maholm pitched seven strong innings Wednesday, combining with

two relievers on a four-hit shutout as the Cubs beat the Atlanta

Braves 1-0. Backed by some good defense and an RBI single from

Bryan LaHair in the seventh, Maholm outpitched Tim Hudson and

earned his fourth straight win.

”I think for four games I’ve pitched well,” Maholm said. ”I’m

going to have another rough outing at some point, it’s part of

baseball. But I’m going to ride this as long as I possibly can and

hopefully for a good while.”

Maholm (4-2) allowed three hits and combined with James Russell

and Rafael Dolis to blank the Braves in a game that took only two

hours and five minutes to play. Maholm walked three and struck out

three as Chicago took two of three from Atlanta after doing the

same in the previous series against the Dodgers.

”After probably his second start, he’s been as good as

anybody,” Chicago manager Dale Sveum said of Maholm, signed as a

free agent after seven seasons with the Pirates. ”We knew what we

were getting, we were getting a guy who throws strikes, can throw

four pitches, can manipulate the ball, he’s a good athlete. He’s

done a great job.”

After Maholm came out to warm up for the eighth, Russell

replaced him and gave up a two-out double to Martin Prado and a

walk to Freddie Freeman, then retired Dan Uggla on a flyout. Dolis

worked the ninth for his third save in four chances.

Hudson (1-1) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings in

his third start this season. He gave up only three hits through the

first six innings and – thanks to a pair of double plays – faced

the minimum 18 batters.

”It’s disappointing. I felt like we played a pretty good game.

Obviously they had a guy over there who was throwing the ball

pretty well, too,” Hudson said. ”He made some pitches. They had

some breaks with some of their defensive alignments with some guys

on base. The ball was bouncing their way. Not a whole lot else you

can say about it.”

David DeJesus hit a leadoff single in the seventh, and Tony

Campana bunted him to second and he reached third on Starlin

Castro’s grounder to first. LaHair then hit a hard grounder under

shortstop Jack Wilson’s glove to give the Cubs the lead.

Prado doubled and reached third in the sixth and after Uggla

walked with two outs, Chipper Jones lined out to second baseman

Darwin Barney, who was positioned behind the bag at second in a

defensive shift. Otherwise, it would have been a run-scoring


”Chipper almost hit me in the forehead and Barney caught it,”

Maholm said. ”It’s scary and then it’s very good.”

The defensive shifts are something Sveum favors, saying that

third base coach Pat Listach studies all the opposing hitters and

their tendencies, allowing the Cubs to move defenders around by

playing the percentages on which direction the ball likely will go

when it comes off the bat.

”The shift won them the game today,” said Jones. ”You live

with it, you’re gonna die by it. It’s just unfortunate today we

couldn’t really get anything going, and when we did, we hit a

bullet right at somebody.”

Atlanta threatened with one out in the fifth when Heyward walked

and Ross reached on a single when Campana lost his high fly to

center on an overcast day at Wrigley Field and it dropped in.

Maholm retired the next two batters.

Castro tried for an inside-the-park home run, hitting a ball

near the right field line that a diving Jason Heyward couldn’t

reach. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, Castro kept running

and Listach waved him home. Castro was tagged out easily by catcher

David Ross on second baseman Uggla’s relay.

NOTES: Atlanta’s Jones, who is retiring at the end of the

season, was presented with a Braves flag before the game by Cubs

pitcher Ryan Dempster. … LaHair has reached base in 27 straight

games dating to April 8. He also singled in the second. … Cubs

manager Dale Sveum said he didn’t see Kerry Wood toss his glove and

cap into the stands Tuesday night after issuing two walks and

giving up a go-ahead single in the eighth. Sveum said he didn’t

condone it but said ”there are frustrations that happen” and

people sometimes do things they regret because they aren’t perfect.

Wood has allowed two runs in both of his appearances since coming

off the DL with a tired shoulder. … Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano was

out of the lineup for the second time in three games to rest a sore