PITTSBURGH – Xavier Nady homered and drove in three runs to support Paul Maholm’s pitching and hitting, and the Pittsburgh Pirates cooled off the Chicago Cubs, winning 8-4 for their fourth consecutive victory.
The Cubs had won 11 of 13 and were 21-10 since June 3, the best record in the majors over that span, until being limited to five hits over seven-plus innings by Maholm (5-11). The Cubs are 8-13 against left-handed starters this season and 0-2 against Maholm, who is 4-0 in five career starts against them.
Maholm gave up four runs, but two came after he left the game following singles by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot to start the eighth inning. Shawn Chacon walked Derrek Lee to load the bases before giving up sacrifice flies to Aramis Ramirez and Mark DeRosa to cut the Pirates’ lead to 7-4, but Freddy Sanchez doubled in a run in the eighth after earlier hitting a solo homer.
Maholm allowed five hits in seven innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
Damaso Marte pitched a scoreless ninth in his first save opportunity of the season.
The Pirates’ modest winning streak is their longest since they won a season-high five in a row from April 22-27, and all four victories are against teams ahead of them in the NL Central. They won three of four from Milwaukee earlier this week, their first series victory this season against a team with a winning record.
The Pirates have won six of eight and eight of 11 since losing five in a row.
Maholm hurt the Cubs with his bat, too. After Nady and Ryan Doumit singled to start the second, Maholm – a .138 hitter – singled into center field off Jason Marquis (6-5) to make it 2-0.
The Cubs tied it in the third, but Sanchez hit his second homer and Nady his 14th in the bottom of the inning off Marquis, who was coming off a 5-1 victory Sunday over Milwaukee that was his first win in 10 starts. Marquis had allowed the Pirates only one run in 17 innings over two starts before permitting six runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Doumit and Jose Bautista doubled in runs in the fifth and Nady reached base for the fourth time in as many at-bats with an RBI double in the sixth off reliever Sean Gallagher, who was in his first game back from the minors. Nady is 20-for-53 (.377) in his last 13 games.
Notes: Soriano went 1-for-4 with a single after being 13-of-28 with three homers against the Pirates previously this season. … Pirates 1B Adam LaRoche went 0-for-5 after hitting three homers in his previous two games and getting 17 hits in 37 at-bats during a nine-game hitting streak. … The Cubs’ Rob Bowen was 0-for-22 until he doubled in the third. … Derrek Lee is 0-for-12 on the Cubs’ road trip. … The Pirates are 16-6 in the first game of their last 22 series. … Friday was the fifth anniversary of Cubs utilityman Daryle Ward’s home run on the fly into the Allegheny River beyond the right field stands, the only such homer in PNC Park’s seven seasons. He played then for Houston. … Maholm has lasted at least seven innings in seven of his last nine starts.