Maholm throws 2 hitter in win
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Nate McLouth yesterday hit two home runs and drove in three runs in support of Paul Maholm.
Pretty good, eh?
"Paul was really the big story," McLouth said. "He gave us exactly the kind of start we needed -- more than you can ask for, really."
Maholm's two-hitter matched McLouth's two homers as the left-hander pitched the Pirates past Philadelphia, 5-1, in front of 17,588 at PNC Park.
"That's something we've been looking for," Pirates manager John Russell said. "It was a huge lift for us and the rest of the starters. It's something they can grasp hold of and say, 'Hey, we can do this."'
- Game: Pirates vs. New York Mets, 7:10 p.m., Shea Stadium.
- TV/Radio: FSN, WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: RHP Ian Snell (2-1, 4.45) vs. LHP Johan Santana (3-2, 3.12).
- Key matchup: Chris Gomez could get a start against Santana tonight. Gomez lifetime against the left-hander is 8 for 14 with two walks and one strikeout.
- Of note: Snell has pitched at least six innings in each of his five starts. Santana has pitched seven innings in each of four starts and went 6 2/3 innings in his other start.
Maholm's gem gave a beleaguered bullpen a much-needed day off.
In the previous eight games, the starters had provided only 35 1/3 innings. In just three of those eight games did the starter manage to pitch six innings.
"It was one of those days that I had a feeling I was going to be able to sit back and relax," closer Matt Capps said. "The way he was going, let him have the ball."
"Paul Maholm was terrific," said pitcher Ian Snell, who starts tonight in New York. "It's going to be hard to follow that up. That was awesome."
This game, though, was not without some pressure for Maholm. He left the clubhouse rather quickly because his wife, Jessica, was scheduled to have labor induced for the birth of the couple's first child, a boy.
"A little stressful," Maholm said.
The whole day was a tad stressful for the Pirates, particularly the starting pitchers. Yesterday morning, the team released veteran starter Matt Morris.
By mid-afternoon, though, the day was brighter for the Pirates.
The afternoon began promisingly when Maholm set down the Phillies in order in the first inning, the first perfect first for the Pirates since April 15 and only their fourth of the season.
McLouth then quickly gave them a 1-0 lead with a drive into the last row of the right field seats to begin the home first inning.
McLouth struck again in the fifth inning after Maholm drew a leadoff walk. This time, McLouth lined a 2-1 pitch into the first row of the right field seats.
"I happened to get a couple good pitches to hit and didn't miss them," McLouth said matter-of-factly.
It was McLouth's second career multiple-home run game. He also hit two in a game at Colorado Aug. 22, 2007.
McLouth leads the Pirates with six home runs, not bad for a leadoff hitter.
The Pirates also received welcome contributions from Adam LaRoche, who had two hits, and Jose Bautista, who had three hits and played an exemplary third base.
Bautista drove in LaRoche with a fourth-inning single, just his second RBI since April 14. LaRoche scored again in the sixth inning when he singled, moved to third on Bautista's single to right and eased home as Luis Rivas grounded into a double play.
But, as McLouth noted, Maholm was the big story.
He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when the Phillies had two. Pat Burrell doubled with one out and scored on Eric Bruntlett's two-out single.
Maholm walked two over the final four innings but was never in any trouble. He needed only 99 pitches -- 56 strikes -- to finish his third career complete game.
"His ball had life," Russell said. "He kept the ball down. He kept them off-balance. He executed. He pitched.
"It was a solid game all the way around. When you get a start like that, guys really respond."
First Published April 28, 2008 12:00 am