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Atlanta at Pittsburgh

Venue: PNC Park
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Paul Maholm showed occasional flashes of excellence, but never lived up to his potential in seven years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

If his first three starts of 2013 are any indication, he's finally doing it in his first full season with the Atlanta Braves.

Maholm has yet to allow a run in three convincing victories, a streak he'd love to continue Saturday night at PNC Park against the club that drafted him.

The left-hander was the eighth pick in the 2003 draft by Pittsburgh but was unable to establish himself as a front-line starter with the Pirates (8-8), going 53-73 with a 4.36 ERA from 2005-11.

After signing with the Cubs in 2012, Maholm was shipped to Atlanta in late July and posted a 3.54 ERA in his final 11 starts.

His beginning to 2013 has been spotless. He went 7 2-3 innings in his latest impressive outing, limiting Washington to four hits and striking out seven in a 9-0 victory Sunday.

Maholm (3-0, 0.00 ERA) is the sixth pitcher since 1920 to begin a season with three straight scoreless starts of at least five innings, and only the third since 1966 - joining Woody Williams (2003) and Zack Greinke (2009).

"Pauly has been outstanding, unbelievable," center fielder B.J. Upton told the Braves' official website.

Heading to the visitors' clubhouse at PNC on Saturday won't seem that odd for Maholm since he started there three times last season, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Maholm gave up two runs and five hits - including a homer to Starling Marte - over seven innings of a 2-1 loss Oct. 1, his lone outing in Pittsburgh with Atlanta.

Marte got a night off Friday after striking out five times in the series opener, but the Pirates' offense was just fine without its leadoff hitter. Pedro Alvarez homered for the second night in a row, one of his team's five extra-base hits in a 6-0 win.

"The last few days have been pretty good for me. I'm getting in some kind of rhythm now and I'm stringing some good at-bats together," said Alvarez, who may find things tougher Saturday as he's 1 for 24 with 13 strikeouts against lefties since Sept. 23. "Hopefully, things are starting to turn for me. I feel good at the plate."

Pittsburgh's bats may have been overshadowed Friday by a pitching staff that allowed two hits and faced the minimum 27 hitters for the first time since July 25, 1982 - also against the Braves.

Atlanta (13-3) has been shut out in all three of its defeats, but another off night at the plate Saturday may be unlikely.

That's because the Braves will be facing James McDonald (1-2, 5.27), who gave up eight runs - three earned - and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings of a 10-6 loss to St. Louis on Monday.

McDonald fell to 4-7 with a 7.11 ERA in 16 games - 15 starts - since the All-Star break. With Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton due back in May, the right-hander's rotation spot may be on the line.

"I don't want to speculate right now," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website. "... I need to sit down and really talk to the guy. I haven't seen anything glaring, but we saw what you saw as far as velocity, finish and command."

McDonald, though, might actually be happy to see the Braves. He's 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA against Atlanta in four starts as a Pirate, striking out 28 in 26 innings.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Paul Maholm, LHP
2013 stats
20.1 Innings Pitched 13.2
3-0 Wins-Losses 1-2
0.00 Earned Run Average 5.27
5 Walks 8
20 Strikeouts 9
103 Pitches Per Start 77
Career vs. opponent
20.0 Innings Pitched 30.0
1-1 Wins-Losses 3-0
2.25 Earned Run Average 1.50

James McDonald, RHP
Weather
weather image  Partly cloudy. Cool.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
48°F36°F16mph/W42%16%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Atlanta5th NL East6693.415278-2 L 1
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central7880.494234-6 W 1
 
 

Related Video

Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Atlanta -130 Pittsburgh 120
Injuries
Atlanta
PlayerInjury
O. AlbiesElbow
J. BiddleElbow
B. FeiglElbow
M. MarksberryShoulder
A. McKirahanArm
E. O'FlahertyElbow
W. PerezElbow
A. PierzynskiHamstring
P. RodriguezElbow
S. SimmonsForearm
A. VizcainoShoulder
R. WhalenShoulder
D. WinklerElbow
C. d'ArnaudFoot
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
F. CervelliHand
G. ColeElbow
B. CumptonElbow
E. DiazLeg
N. FelizArm
J. HarrisonGroin
K. HayesRibs
S. MarteBack
A. MeadowsOblique
J. MercerForearm
C. SadlerForearm
A. SchugelShoulder
C. StewartKnee
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 3PITPIT 4-1Liriano Wainwright 
Apr 5PITPIT 6-5Lobstein Maness 
Apr 6PITPIT 5-1Nicasio Leake 
May 6STLPIT 4-2Liriano Martinez 
May 7STLSTL 6-4Rosenthal Schugel 
May 8STLPIT 10-5Cole Wacha 
Jun 10PITSTL 9-3Broxton Nicasio 
Jun 11PITSTL 5-1Martinez Liriano 
Jun 12PITSTL 8-3Leake Niese 
Jul 4STLPIT 4-2Niese Martinez 
Jul 5STLPIT 5-2Nicasio Leake 
Jul 6STLPIT 7-5Schugel Broxton 
Jul 7STLSTL 5-1Wainwright Glasnow 
Sep 5PITSTL 12-6Wainwright Kuhl 
Sep 6PITSTL 9-7Mayers Watson 
Sep 7PITPIT 4-3Williams Reyes 
Sep 30STL 8:15 PM EDT  
Oct 1STL 1:05 PM EDT  
Oct 2STL 3:15 PM EDT