Paul Maholm is doing his best to ensure a return to the Pittsburgh rotation next year.
The promising rookie looks to continue his strong pitching when the Pirates visit the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers for a four-game series.
Maholm, who has been overshadowed by fellow Pittsburgh rookie sensation Zach Duke, has been very impressive in four major league starts, going 2-0 with a 1.24 ERA.
The 23-year-old southpaw, hoping to land a spot in the rotation next season, struck out a career-high eight in eight innings to lead Pittsburgh to a 4-0 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.
“Right now it’s kind of a tryout for me. I’m just trying to state my case to stay here for a long time,” said Maholm, the Pirates’ eighth overall pick in the 2003 draft. “You always hope to do well, but you just want to show you’re ready. As well as I’m doing is a huge shock to me.”
Maholm has pitched into the seventh inning in all four starts. He also pitched eight sharp innings in his major league debut, a 6-0 win at Milwaukee Aug. 30.
“He just dominated the whole game (Saturday),” Pirates interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “He cruised the whole way. He had everything going, and they were off-balance. It was a very impressive performance.”
Pittsburgh has lost three straight since a four-game winning streak, including a 2-1 loss to wild card-leading Houston on Thursday.
Duke threw six solid innings, but suffered his second loss in a row after missing three weeks with a sprained ankle. He fell to 6-2 despite a 1.94 ERA in 12 major league starts.
Craig Wilson homered for the league-worst Pirates, who are 7-13 this month, and 7-10 under Mackanin.
Los Angeles fell to 6-13 in September after its sixth straight loss, a 7-4, 12-inning defeat to Arizona Thursday. Jeff Kent went 2-for-5 with a three-run homer for the NL West defending champions, who have been hit hard by injuries this season.
Los Angeles is just four games ahead of last-place Colorado (63-89) with 10 games remaining.