Pirates' new lineup paves way for 6-4 win

Rare burst of offense, Maholm's rebound put down Cubs

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CHICAGO -- Well, what do you know?

"We got some runs," manager Jim Tracy said.

The Pirates, an offensive mess barely 16 hours earlier, amassed their highest run total since May 2 and beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-4, yesterday at Wrigley Field.

A vastly new lineup and some help from the Cubs produced three runs in the first inning and a 5-1 lead in the third.

"The best game plan a pitcher can hope for," said starter Paul Maholm, who worked 7 1/3 innings to gain his second win.

Matt Capps struck out Derrek Lee with a runner on first base to end the eighth, and Salomon Torres pitched a strong ninth for his 11th save.

Torres struck out the first two batters in the ninth, then got an assist from right fielder Ryan Doumit, who made a super catch of pinch-hitter Daryle Ward's drive into the corner for the final out.

"I didn't think he had a chance of catching that ball," Tracy said.

"Initially off the bat, I thought he hit it real well," Doumit said. "Then I saw the wind was holding it up. That was a fun way to end it."

Not only this game, but the seven-game trip, too.

The Pirates after the 1-0 loss Wednesday night seemed destined to limp home 2-5. Instead, they were 3-4, which is a lot better than just the one-game difference.

"They don't quit," Tracy said. "They don't quit. They keep playing. They deserve a lot of credit for that."

Tracy should get some credit for the unusual lineup he -- along with bench coach Jim Lett -- dreamed up yesterday morning to run against right-hander Carlos Zambrano.

Leadoff hitter Chris Duffy, in a 2-for-23 slide, didn't start. Instead, Freddy Sanchez made his third start in the No. 1 spot.

Jose Bautista batted second for the first time this season.

Doumit appeared in the cleanup spot for the second time, the first being Wednesday night.

And slumping Jack Wilson batted eighth for the first time this year.

"For a short period of time, it behooves us to move him down," Tracy said yesterday morning. "Lately he's not been getting on base. He hasn't drawn any walks.

"It's not the lineup you want to stick with. There are flaws to this one, too. There isn't any base-stealing speed up at the top. Is it perfect? No. But it's something else to try.

"We're just trying to get something going at the top of our lineup [and] see if we can't get something going offensively. It's the one thing right now that is holding our ballclub up."

In the first six games of this trip, the players who started in the top three lineup spots -- primarily Duffy, Wilson and Sanchez -- were a combined 14 for 82 with three walks. They scored five runs, one of those on Duffy's home run Sunday in Milwaukee.

Yesterday, Sanchez, Bautista and Jason Bay reached base a combined six times and scored four runs.

The offense got rolling on Zambrano's fourth pitch of a laborious, 35-pitch first-inning. That 1-2 pitch hit Sanchez, who moved to third on Bautista's double down the right-field line.

Bay dropped a pop-fly double just inside the right-field line, scoring both runners.

Doumit lined a single into right-center field that moved Bay to third, and Bay scored on Xavier Nady's sacrifice fly.

Maholm yielded a leadoff home run to Aramis Ramirez in the second.

Unlike other games, the Pirates, who had scored in only 10 of their previous 74 innings before yesterday, did not score in just the one inning.

With two outs in the third, Doumit drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Nady drove a ball into deep right-center field that clanked off Matt Murton's glove on the track.

Doumit scored on that gaffe, and Nady, who reached second on Murton's muff, scored when Adam LaRoche grounded a 1-2 pitch into right field for a single.

Three double plays begun by Wilson allowed Maholm to stay in control early, and the Pirates gave the left-hander a sixth run in the fifth when Bay drove his fifth home run deep into the left-field bleachers.

Angel Pagan, called up from Class AAA Iowa yesterday to replace Felix Pie, hit a leadoff home run in the sixth.

No worries yet, though.

But, when Michael Barrett hit a two-run home run with one out in the eighth, things got tense.

Capps eased the tension by retiring Alfonso Soriano on a foul pop. Ryan Theriot singled, but Capps worked through a long at-bat by Lee and got him swinging at a third strike, then pumped his fist in celebration.

"Matt Capps understands his role," Tracy said. "That was a pretty huge situation right there. Quite a pitcher/hitter confrontation."

Almost like a mini-close piece.

"You're absolutely right," Tracy said. "He's really, really good. Your closer gets additional save opportunities if your guy in the eighth inning is good."

Torres, who was dominating in closing the 15-inning win Tuesday, seems back in a solid groove.

"In the two games he pitched in here, he really resembled the pitcher we saw last September," Tracy said.

Maholm, who provided only 7 2/3 innings in his previous two starts, yesterday resembled the guy who shut out Houston on three hits April 24. He threw 86 pitches, 60 for strikes.

"Maholm was great," Tracy said. "Yes, he allowed three home runs, but his performance from an efficiency standpoint was outstanding."

Today

Game: Braves (RHP Kyle Davies, 0-1, 6.41) vs. Pirates (LHP Zach Duke, 1-3, 5.50), 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.

TV, radio: FSN, WPGB-FM (104.7)

Key matchup: Duke against the Joneses. Lifetime, Chipper is 0 for 7 against Duke. Andruw is 0 for 6.

Of note: Atlanta's rotation for the weekend of Davies-James-Lerew isn't exactly Glavine-Smoltz-Maddux. Not yet, anyway.


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Paul Meyer can be reached at 412-263-1144.


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