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Maholm avoids 13th loss, helps snap Pirates' long skid

Jul 22, 2007 - 3:54 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Paul Maholm seemed an unlikely candidate to end the Pittsburgh Pirates' seven-game skid following the All-Star break.

Maholm tossed six-plus solid innings and Freddy Sanchez scored three times as the Pirates cruised to a 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

The lefthander, who is 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA against the Astros this season and 4-12 with a 5.06 ERA against every other team he has faced, baffled the Astros before departing with two outs in the seventh.

Maholm (6-12) avoided the dubious honor of being the first pitcher in the majors to record 13 losses this season, yielding two runs and eight hits with five strikeouts.

"This is how I expect to pitch," Maholm said. "It's one of those things where it's a pitch here or a hitter there that would cost me a good start. Now I'm getting out of jams and making the pitches. "Hopefully, this will pull the pressure off us and let us just go out there and relax and just play ball."

Maholm improved to 5-0 all-time at PNC Park in games played after the All-Star break.

The Pirates' ended their longest losing streak of the season, which had pushed their record to a season-worst 15 games under .500 before Saturday's triumph.

"This was big because it was getting ugly pretty fast," said Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche, who had three hits and two RBI. "It's good to get a win and get back on track. I forgot what it feels like (to win)."

"It's been (tough)," Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said of the past eight days. "Get the monkey off of our back and let's get back moving in the direction we were headed in prior to the (All-Star) break (winning nine of 13)."

Sanchez singled and later scored on Jason Bay's sacrifice fly in Pittsburgh's two-run fourth. In the fifth, he walked and scored on another sacrifice fly from Bay, capping a four-run outburst in the frame.

Sanchez, the Pirates' lone All-Star representative, finished off his great game by lining a solo shot to left in the seventh to stake the Pirates to a 7-2 lead.

After hitting just one homer through the end of June, Sanchez has clubbed four over his last 11 games, his best power-hitting stretch since hitting four over a seven-game stretch from September 17-23, 2005.

Matt Kata had two hits and scored twice for the Pirates, who improved to 32-18 when scoring four or more runs in a game. The switch-hitter was making just his second start for Pittsburgh since being recalled from the minors on June 30.

"As a significant other, as I like to call it, rather than a bench player, you come to the yard every day prepared for whatever and if your name is in the starting lineup, you do your thing and hopefully contribute to a win," Kata said.

Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-9) set down the first nine batters he faced - striking out four in the process - but could not avoid losing his second straight start. The lefthander surrendered six runs - four earned - and seven hits over five frames, striking out six.

"He pitched pretty well and his stuff was good, he just gave up some runs," Astros catcher Brad Ausmus said. "I thought he was going to have a good game the way he started, but sometimes you just never know. Frankly, they didn't hit a lot of balls hard but they found places to put them and scored runs."

Mike Lamb homered and recorded three hits for the Astros, who have dropped six of eight following the All-Star break.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 3 11 1
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 2 4 0 1 0 x 7 10 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - WANDY RODRIGUEZ, CHAD QUALLS (6TH), MATT ALBERS (7TH), DAVE
    BORKOWSKI (8TH) AND BRAD AUSMUS
    PIT - PAUL MAHOLM, SALOMON TORRES (7TH), DAMASO MARTE
    (8TH), SHAW

    Jul 21 10:11 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ERIC BRUNTLETT SCORED MORGAN ENSBERG.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, E BRUNTLETT ON FIRST, M LAMB ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    PITTSBURGH 7 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B AUSMUS (.245, 0-FOR-1, 2 BB)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 9:40 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY FREDDY SANCHEZ (5) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 1
    OUT IN THE 7TH OFF MATT ALBERS.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2, PITTSBURGH 7
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: A LAROCHE (.243, 2-FOR-3, 2 RBI)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 9:29 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY HUNTER PENCE SCORED ERIC BRUNTLETT.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, H PENCE ON SECOND, C BIGGIO ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    PITTSBURGH 6 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M LORETTA (.310, 1-FOR-3)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 9:17 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MIKE LAMB (10) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    7TH OFF PAUL MAHOLM.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1, PITTSBURGH 6
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: E BRUNTLETT (.288, 1-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 9:09 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JASON BAY SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, A LAROCHE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    PITTSBURGH 6 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: R DOUMIT (.296, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 8:49 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ADAM LAROCHE SCORED PAUL MAHOLM AND MATT KATA.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, A LAROCHE ON FIRST, F SANCHEZ ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    PITTSBURGH 5 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: X NADY (.282, 0-FOR-1, HBP, RBI)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 8:45 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND RULE DOUBLE BY MATT KATA SCORED JACK WILSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M KATA ON SECOND, P MAHOLM ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    PITTSBURGH 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: F SANCHEZ (.297, 1-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 8:42 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JASON BAY SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, X NADY ON FIRST, A LAROCHE ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    PITTSBURGH 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: R DOUMIT (.297, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 8:22 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    XAVIER NADY HIT BY WANDY RODRIGUEZ PITCH WITH BASES LOADED
    SCORED MATT KATA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, X NADY ON FIRST, A LAROCHE ON SECOND, F
    SANCHEZ ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    PITTSBURGH 1 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J BAY (.246, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. PiratesJul 21 8:20 PM