PITTSBURGH (AP) — The previous time he faced the Mets, Paul Maholm was angry at himself for “screwing up” one of the few times this season the Pittsburgh Pirates gave him sufficient run support.
Maholm was so mad after allowing New York to come back from a 7-0 deficit June 2 that he hasn’t allowed a run since.
The left-hander pitched seven shutout innings, Brandon Wood homered and the Pirates beat the Mets 3-1 on Monday night to split their four-game series.
“When it’s game day, it’s time to go compete and have fun,” Maholm said. “When I get on the mound, my focus is to get the first guy of an inning out and get groundballs. That’s how it’s been going lately, and hopefully I can continue to get in a groove and stay that way.”
Maholm (3-7) lowered his ERA to 3.12, allowing only three hits and two walks. Hampered by poor offensive support, he won for just the second time since April 25.
Maholm allowed only one hit over six innings in his previous start Wednesday, but for the fourth time this season the bullpen cost him a win when it blew a save.
“Sometimes, a pitcher is too worried about making a mistake if there’s no room for error or no large safety net to work with,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “In Paul’s case, he’s seen a lot, been through a lot, thrown a lot of innings. I know for a fact he’s really comfortable with the way he’s pitching now.”
Despite being outscored 18-7, Pittsburgh split a four-game series with New York for the second time in two weeks. The Pirates are 3-3 in their past six games despite scoring only 10 runs in that time.
“Paul’s been throwing the heck out of it,” Wood said. “Our pitching staff’s been phenomenal.
“It’s always good to get your guy a win, especially when they’re pitching their tail off and throwing like they’ve been throwing,” he added. “I’m sure that’s a little frustrating when we’re not hitting and putting runs on the board.”
Joel Hanrahan tossed a perfect ninth for his 17th save in as many opportunities.
New York starter Mike Pelfrey (3-5) nearly matched Maholm, giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter.
Neil Walker had two RBIs as Pittsburgh (32-33) moved within a game of .500.
For the second time in three days, the Mets (32-34) missed an opportunity to reach .500 for the second time since April 9.
The first three Pirates batters of the game singled, with Walker’s hit scoring Jose Tabata. Pelfrey, however, retired 20 of his final 21 after that. Wood led off the fifth by driving a 2-1 pitch to left for his second home run.
“I got outpitched by Maholm on the other side,” Pelfrey said. “He was great, and you’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
Both of Wood’s homers have come during the 6-4 homestand Pittsburgh just completed.
Walker saw eight pitches and worked a two-out walk against Tim Byrdak in the eighth after three Pirates had singles off Manny Acosta to load the bases.
For the second consecutive game, the Mets had a sacrifice fly that turned into a double play. On Monday, it was Jose Reyes who flied to left against Tim Wood with runners on first and third and no outs in the eighth.
Tabata made a sliding grab that appeared as if it possibly could have been a trap — but umpires ruled it a catch and Lucas Duda was doubled off first. Ruben Tejada scored on the play, the run upheld through a Pirates appeal that he left third too early.
“It was my fault,” Duda said. “I should have only gone halfway to second, then waited for the umpire to make the call.”
Michael McKenry made his Pittsburgh debut less than 24 hours after the catcher was acquired in a trade from the Boston Red Sox. He went 0 for 3 but picked Daniel Murphy off second in the fifth.
“He’s a big part of why we won the game tonight,” Hurdle said.
Since Chris Snyder was injured during an awkward slide trying to stretch a single into a double during the second inning Wednesday, Pirates catcher do not have a hit.
NOTES: Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen was not in the starting lineup because of a scheduled day off. McCutchen extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with an eighth-inning single after he entering as part of a double switch. … Reyes went 0 for 3 after getting at least two hits in each of his previous four games. … McKenry is the sixth catcher the Pirates have used this season, most since 1988. … The Pirates said C Ryan Doumit’s ankle is healing as expected and he will report to the team’s facility in Bradenton, Fla. A late-July return from the disabled list is targeted. … Pittsburgh RHP Evan Meek (shoulder) was examined by Dr. James Andrews and was told to continue his rehabilitation. Meek is targeting a July return.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)