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Down three runs in the eighth, the Cubs rallied in the inning to score five runs as the Pirates fell 5-3 to the Cubs in Chicago on Saturday.
Paul Maholm received a no-decision in his solid season debut scattering five hits over 6.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
Maholm was efficient. He needed just 14 pitches to get through two perfect innings. Maholm didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the 3rd, when pitcher Carlos Zambrano hit a double.
Maholm told Root Sports on what made him so successful today: “My curveball was better than my slider. Just throwing inside and mixing it up.”
“I was happy. I felt comfortable. I was throwing first pitch strikes, throwing inside and mixing it up pretty good.
The Pirates scored on Right-hand pitcher Zambrano early. After issuing two walks in the first inning, Pedro Alvarez drove in Jose Tabata to take a 1-0 lead.
They tacked on a second run in the 3rd when Neil Walker hit a RBI double scoring Tabata who started the inning off with a single.
The score remained 2-0 until the 7th inning when right-fielder Garrett Jones took the first pitch from Zambrano into the right field bleachers for a solo-home run and a 3-0 lead.
Things quickly turned sour in the 8th. Set up man Evan Meek allowed a lead-off walk to pinch-hitter Kosuke Fukudome, who advanced to second after a wild pitch was thrown. Shortstop Starlin Castro hit a RBI double to cut the lead 3-1. Marlon Byrd reached base on a fielding error by first baseman Lyle Overbay which scored Castro. Alfonso Soriano hit a single off of Meek to tie the game at 3.
Chris Resop replaced Meek, but he didn’t stop the runs from scoring. After issuing a walk to Tyler Colvin, Blake Dewitt hit a two-run double to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead.
Meek told Root Sports after the game, “I felt good warming up. Obviously, when you go out there and walk the lead-off guy, it’s never a good sign. It’s tough. Pauly [Paul Maholm] went out there and did a good job. The team did a good job. Just didn’t make good pitches when I needed to, didn’t make very smart pitches. Not smart location, it just was an awful day for me. You can’t get ahead of a guy 0-2 and give him something to hit. I just didn’t do a good job finishing off the hitters today. It’s a tough break.”
“I go out there everyday expecting to get three outs, and get them quickly. Going out there and having a three run lead, knowing that Joel’s coming after me, it’s a good feeling. It’s a very confident feeling. Obviously going out there and not doing my job, not making the pitches, walking the lead off guy, that weighs on you. It weighs on you hard.”
Closer Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the top of the 9th for the save and the heartbreaking loss for the Bucs.
“You’re going to lose, Maholm said. “It’s going to happen. We’re going to go 162-0? It’s part of it. But hopefully as a group you’re p*ssed off, you’re ready to come win a series tomorrow. We had the game and kind of let it get away from us. You know what, I’ll hand the ball to Meek every time, and all those guys in the bullpen. Everybody’s going to have bad outings.”