PITTSBURGH -- Paul Maholm has just been playing the part of magician that past few weeks.
After a sensational regular season, the lefthander disappeared in his first two starts of the postseason, getting smacked in game one losses to the Giants and Cardinals. The Buccos ace finally reappeared in game five of the NLCS, holding St. Louis to three hits and a single earned run (three total) over 6.1 innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates won, 6-4, to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
|NLCS Game Five
|St. Louis (5-5)||4||6||3|
|PITCHERS OF RECORD|
|W - Paul Maholm (1-2)|
|L - Kyle McClellan (0-1)|
|SV - Joel Hanrahan (3)|
"We knew he was still the same pitcher that was dominant earlier in the year," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's especially nice that he found his form in such a crucial situation for us."
The Pirates continued their trend of jumping out to early leads, as a Matt Diaz double in the first inning scored Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen to jumpstart the Pirates to a 2-0 lead.
Fielding errors plagued both squads in the matchup, with the ensuing three runs coming from miscues.
In the third, McCutchen reached on a throwing error by David Freese, and eventually came around to score on another throwing error after a Pedro Alvarez grounder.
St. Louis got on the board with two runs coming in the sixth inning, thanks to a blunder by Miguel Tejada. The shortstop's throwing error allowed Christian Guzman to reach base, where he scored on a Colby Rasmus triple that Diaz should have corraled but seemed to lose in the lights. Rasmus scored on a sacrifice fly.
"It was a weird inning," Hurdle said. "They got a couple weird runs, but Paul [Maholm] didn't lose his cool and got us out of the jam with the lead."
Ryan Doumit, whose bat has cooled throughout the postseason, hit a two run homer in the bottom half of the inning to push the Bucs lead to 5-2.
Maholm allowed two baserunners in the seventh before being lifted for Chris Resop, who promptly gave up an RBI single from Gerald Laird. However, consecutive popouts allowed him to escape from jam with two left on base.
The Pirates scraped an insurance run across in the bottom half as McCutchen scored his third run of the evening on an Alvarez single after doubling with two outs. Cutch finished 2-4 with three runs scored and was a menace on the basepaths, swiping two bags.
Albert Pujols, who was 0-3 at the dish against Maholm, belted a solo shot against Evan Meek in the eighth but St. Louis would get no closer, as Joel Hanrahan picked up his third save of the postseason to get the Pirates one win away from their first World Series since 1979.
ALCS - The Texas Rangers will represent the American League in the World Series, as Elvis Andrus knocked in the game's only run in the Rangers' 1-0, 11 inning victory in game six against the New York Yankees.