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Houston at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
Houston (9-10)000000000030
Pittsburgh (8-10) «11100000x390

Bucs' Maholm three-hits Astros in complete-game performance

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Paul Maholm wasn't perfect, and he didn't flirt with a no-hitter. To pitch much better than this, though, the Pittsburgh Pirates' left-hander might have to do exactly that.

Maholm allowed only three singles in his first career complete game and the Pirates avoided their longest home losing streak to start a season in 109 years, beating the Houston Astros 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Playing only their fifth home game -- they lost their first four -- the Pirates received their best-pitched game so far this season from Maholm (1-2), who hadn't won since Sept. 15, and a pair of run-scoring hits from Jason Bay.

"If I throw out the one walk, everything was pretty perfect," Maholm said. "I threw hardly any balls that were hit in the air, and for a sinkerball pitcher that's got to be the thing to do."

The left-handed Maholm faced only 29 batters, two over the minimum, while giving up three hits and walking one. Craig Biggio, who had two of Houston's three hits, was thrown out trying to steal second in the fourth. He also was retired on a double-play grounder following a sharply hit single to left field on Maholm's first and probably worst pitch of the game.

"He swings at the first pitch a lot, but for some reason he's been taking and I just laid one in there and he hit a ball through the 6-hole (at shortstop)," Maholm said.

Maholm, who took a 6.19 ERA and an 11-13 career record into his fourth start of the season, didn't throw many bad pitches after that one as the Astros never came close to getting anything going offensively in their fourth consecutive loss.

Houston never advanced a runner past first base against Maholm, who induced 15 outs by groundball or easy popups and struck out four. Maholm was so successful in keeping the ball down, Houston didn't hit a fly ball until the fourth and had only six flyouts overall.

Good pitching or bad hitting? The two managers disagreed.

"You can count the number of bad pitches he threw on one hand," the Pirates' Jim Tracy said. "He was exceptional."

"It was a very bad game, we looked like we had no clue what we were doing," the Astros' Phil Garner said. "We hit one ball good. We didn't square the ball up and swung at a lot of bad pitches and, unfortunately, we put them in play. I think it was more us than him, though obviously he pitched well."

The Pirates haven't lost their first five home games since 1898, the 12th season of their existence and one in which the entire club hit only 14 homers all season.

These Pirates did homer -- Ronny Paulino's solo shot in the second, his first of the season and one of their four extra-base hits while taking a 3-0 lead by the fourth against Woody Williams (0-3). The right-handed Williams remained winless with his hometown Astros since signing a two-year contract worth about $12 million.

"It was good to get things going here," Maholm said.

Jack Wilson doubled and scored on Bay's double in the first, and Paulino's homer made it 2-0 in the second. Wilson doubled for the second time in as many at-bats in the third and scored on Bay's one-out single.

"The middle of the lineup has been struggling, but we picked up the offense and it was enough to get the win," Bay said.

Previously, Maholm's longest starts of his 40 in the majors were eight-inning outings against the Reds and the Brewers during his rookie season in 2005. He was the first Pittsburgh pitcher to throw a shutout since Zach Duke's five-hitter against the Chicago Cubs on May 2 last year.

"Being out there in the ninth was different territory for me," said Maholm, who didn't last longer than six innings in his first three starts. "I threw as many pitches as I've been throwing in five innings. Tonight, I threw strikes and let them beat the ball into the ground."

Williams gave up nine hits over seven innings, one start after severely bruising his right shin while being struck by a ball hit by the Reds' Brandon Phillips.

Notes

  • The Pirates' Jose Bautista ran his hitting streak to 11 games (14-for-45, .311) with a single in the sixth.
  • The Pirates have scored only 12 runs in their five home games.
  • Houston is 3-4 during a nine-game, four-city road trip that was expanded to include a Monday night makeup game in Philadelphia, which the Astros lost 11-4.
  • The Astros are 0-4 against the Pirates, losing their first three games of the season April 2-4 in Houston.
  • The Pirates had nine hits a night after the Phillies had 20 against Houston.
  • The time of game, thanks to Maholm's effective pitching, was 1 hour, 57 minutes.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Paul Maholm has his game face on while handcuffing the Astros with three hits over nine innings.  (AP)
Paul Maholm has his game face on while handcuffing the Astros with three hits over nine innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

P. Maholm
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 4
Pittsburgh

J. Bay
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4020011 .237
Chris Burke, CF4000002 .231
Lance Berkman, 1B2000100 .206
Carlos Lee, LF3000001 .260
Mark Loretta, 3B3000020 .250
Jason Lane, RF3000000 .207
Adam Everett, SS3000000 .259
Humberto Quintero, C3010000 .188
Woody Williams, P2000011 .091
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
   a- Morgan Ensberg, PH1000000 .288
Totals2803014  
a-fouled out for Wheeler in the 9th
Batting
CS - Craig Biggio (1, 2nd base by Maholm/Paulino)
Team LOB - 2
Houston Astros
Woody Williams (L,0-3) 7933021 5.90
Dan Wheeler 1000010 4.00
HBP - Duffy (by Woody Williams)
Pitches-Strikes - Woody Williams 108-74, Dan Wheeler 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Woody Williams 8-10, Dan Wheeler 1-1
Batters Faced - Woody Williams 30, Dan Wheeler 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Duffy, CF3000001 .279
Jack Wilson, SS4220000 .311
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4000002 .250
Jason Bay, LF4032000 .290
Adam LaRoche, 1B4000023 .098
Jose Bautista, 3B4010001 .310
Brad Eldred, RF3000012 .100
    Nate McLouth, RF0000000 .400
Ronny Paulino, C3121000 .207
Paul Maholm, P3010003 .111
Totals3239303  
Batting
2B - Jack Wilson 2 (6, Williams, Williams), Jason Bay (4, Williams)
HR - Ronny Paulino (1, Williams)
RBI - Jason Bay 2 (11), Ronny Paulino (5)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Bay (2), Ronny Paulino (3)
CS - Chris Duffy (1, 2nd base by Williams/Quintero)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - J. Wilson-LaRoche
Pittsburgh Pirates
Paul Maholm (W,1-2) 9300140 3.96
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 62-39
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 13-8
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 29
Game Information
Attendance - 13062
Game Time - 1:57
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Hunter Wendelstedt, First Base - Randy Marsh, Second Base - Bob Davidson, Third Base - Sam Holbrook