Whether he was stealing signs or not, Miguel Tejada certainly riled Pirates closer Matt Capps.
The two players had a brief verbal exchange Sunday after Capps thought Tejada and Houston first base coach Jose Cruz were trying to steal pitch signs in the ninth inning of Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory over the Astros.
“Just compete,” Capps said. “You don’t need to do any of that stuff. Those two have a thing going out there. I’m set and he’s not even looking at me. That tells me all I need to know.”
Article continues below ...
Tejada said he had no idea what Capps was talking about.
“I don’t know what is going on,” said Tejada, who popped out to shortstop against Capps with a runner on first base in the ninth. “I have no idea why a pitcher would mock a guy after getting him out. But I am going to find out why. I don’t know what he said and I could not even understand what he said.
“I just made an out. That is the first time I have ever seen a guy mad, yelling at a guy for getting out.”
Paul Maholm pitched eight shutout innings and Pittsburgh snapped a 13-game road losing streak.
Ryan Doumit homered and Garrett Jones had an RBI single for the last-place Pirates, who had dropped five in a row overall.
Maholm (8-8), who lost four of his previous five decisions, scattered six hits and two walks. He struck out two.
“I’ve been feeling good lately,” Maholm said. “It just seems like one pitch here or one pitch there would kill me every time out.
“But today the defense picked me up. It was a lot of fun to sit back and watch them make plays.”
Capps allowed Lance Berkman‘s leadoff homer in the ninth before earning his 25th save when Hunter Pence grounded into a game-ending double play. Capps hadn’t pitched in a save situation since Aug. 27.
After walking his first batter, Maholm faced the minimum for four innings. He retired 11 of 12 – Humberto Quintero singled in the third but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
“Overall, being able to throw my curveball and my other pitches, this was a good day,” Maholm said. “It’s the best I’ve felt with every pitch.”
Tejada broke up the string by leading off the fifth with a single to left.
“Paul did a great job,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “His sinker was really good and he was very efficient. He was just very sharp today.”
Felipe Paulino (2-9) lost his fifth straight decision. He went five innings and allowed one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out six.
“I thought he pitched good,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. “There must be some kind of jinx for Paulino. Again he goes out there and pitches, but doesn’t get any run support. The first couple of innings, I thought he was a little erratic and had some deep counts. But after that, I thought he pitched really well.”
Paulino, who hasn’t won since beating Detroit on June 27, got in trouble early. Andrew McCutchen hit the first pitch of the game down the left-field line for a double. One out later, Jones’ single to right gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
Doumit added his ninth homer in the eighth.
Berkman hit his 21st home run in the ninth. He was originally stopped at second until umpires conferred and ruled that the ball hit above the yellow line in left-center.
Geoff Blum was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game with a bruised left shin and mild ankle sprain. But he did pinch hit in the eighth and the Astros said he could return to the lineup Monday at Cincinnati. … Chris Johnson, called up last Tuesday, made his third major league start in place of Blum. … The Pirates got 5-4-3 double plays in the seventh and eighth, and a 1-6-3 DP in the ninth to give them seven in the last four games. They have 151 this season. They were tied with St. Louis for the NL lead entering the game. … The Pirates have been scored on in the first inning in six of their last seven games and 11 of 13. … Lastings Milledge‘s outfield assist in the third inning gave the Pirates a major league-leading 39 for the season. That’s the most since the team had 40 in 1991.