Pirates 10, Cubs 0
The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 13 runs total in Paul Maholm's first 10 starts this season. On Saturday they hit four homers and crossed the plate 10 times, giving the left-hander a comfortable cushion he's seldom enjoyed.
The way Maholm was pitching, through, he didn't need that much help. He mowed down the Chicago Cubs with a three-hit shutout, retiring the side in order in seven of the nine innings of Pittsburgh's 10-0 victory. It was his first win since April 25.
''You go out there and you do everything you can to make sure the team has a chance. And I think I've done that,'' Maholm said. ''And today the guys broke out and scored a bunch of runs and made it easier on me. And going out there, every pitch wasn't a nail-biter.''
Ronny Cedeno, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Andrew McCutchen each homered for the Pirates.
Maholm (2-7) got his third career shutout in a place he's always pitched well. He's 8-2 in 15 career starts against the Cubs, including 6-2 in 11 starts at Wrigley Field.
He only needed 91 pitches to finish off the Cubs in a game that took 2 hours, 28 minutes.
''The main thing is that no matter where you pitch, if you execute your pitches and mix speeds it makes it a lot easier,'' he said.
''That last inning my goal was to try to get it under 90 pitches, but I'll take the 92 or whatever it is. It was just something to say you've done. With the run support, it was mainly just go out there, attack hitters and let the guys do their job on defense.''
Maholm retired the first 13 batters he faced before Alfonso Soriano doubled in the fifth, driving a ball to the center-field wall that McCutchen leaped for but couldn't catch. Lou Montanez then reached on an infield single.
Darwin Barney reached on a two-out infield single in the ninth for the only other Chicago hit. Maholm walked none and struck out four.
Pittsburgh had been struggling offensively with only six runs in its previous four games, but broke out on an overcast 61-degree day with their most homers in a game this season.
''I'm sure it's been frustrating, but he really hasn't let it show,'' Snyder said of Maholm. ''He goes about his business. He's a professional. And like I said, what he did today was nothing different than what he's been doing all year except for the run support.''
Cedeno's three-run shot capped a five-run fourth that finally gave Maholm a big early lead.
In just his second start of the season and first since April 4, Chicago's Randy Wells (1-1) lasted four innings after being activated off the disabled list (right forearm strain).
Wells gave up five hits, including Cedeno's second homer, and five runs with three walks and seven strikeouts in a 92-pitch outing.
Overbay hit his fifth homer, leading off the sixth against reliever James Russell. And one out later, Snyder sent his second homer of the season over the wall in left to make it 7-0. McCutchen connected off reliever Scott Maine in the seventh, his ninth of the season.
McCutchen led off the fourth with a single and made third on Neil Walker's fly ball double to left that Soriano couldn't catch. One out later, Steve Pearce hit a two-run single and after Snyder walked, ex-Cub Cedeno drove a ball over the wall in right center.
''I got behind a lot of hitters and ran the pitch count up,'' Wells said, adding he wasn't as rusty as he was anxious. ''I gave up the double to left there that I thought off the bat was a fly ball out. ... You try to control the inning. ... I felt confident I could go after Cedeno with the pitcher on deck, just made a bad pitch and left it up.''
Maholm had pitched 6 2-3 innings of scoreless ball at Wrigley Field on April 2, leaving with a 3-0 lead, before the Cubs got five runs in the eighth and he ended up with a no-decision.
His last shutout before Saturday came on July 18, 2010, against the Astros.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was impressed with how Maholm has handled his first 11 starts, through the good run support of Saturday and the leaner times during most of the season.
''All he can control is his job off the mound, and he's really embraced that,'' Hurdle said. ''He can't control run support. He can't control a lot of other things. But he can control how he pitches. And that's what he's locked down on.''
NOTES: The Pirates are 16-6 in their last 22 games against the Cubs. ... Pearce left the game after the top of the fourth with soreness in his right calf. He was replaced at 3B by Brandon Wood. ... Walker has hit safely in all 14 of his career games against the Cubs. ... Rodrigo Lopez, acquired from Atlanta in a minor-league trade Thursday, will make his first start for the Cubs on Monday against Houston. ... Matt Garza, on the DL with a sore elbow, could throw on the side Sunday. ... CF Marlon Byrd, recovering from facial fractures after being hit near the eye by Boston's Alfredo Aceves last weekend, is consulting specialists this week. ... Jeff Baker (groin) and Reed Johnson (back) were held out of the lineup Saturday. Baker pinch-hit in the ninth. ... Cubs cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez has one homer all season and that came on April 6. ... The Pirates put LHP Joe Beimel on the DL with left elbow inflammation and planned to send him back to Pittsburgh to be examined.