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