Another stellar start by Paul Maholm was undone by another subpar offensive performance by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yet ask the hard-luck left-hander if he feels snakebit after six solid innings of work ended up with him taking a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday and he shakes his head.

"My job is to get outs, to get deeper in the game," Maholm said. "In the sixth I didn't do the job."


The Dodgers didn't overpower Maholm but did just enough to put together their first winning streak in three weeks.

Los Angeles loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and a double play followed by an RBI double by Jerry Sands was enough to leave Maholm (1-5) winless in his career against Dodgers.

The game followed an all-too familiar theme for Maholm. The Pirates have scored just 11 runs in his eight starts and never really came close to crossing the plate against Los Angeles pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

Kuroda (4-3) allowed just three hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking three as the Dodgers won back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks.

Matt Guerrier worked a perfect eighth and Vicente Padilla surrendered a two-out double in the ninth but struck out Brandon Wood to end the four-hitter for his third save.

Pittsburgh came in batting just .236 on the season and looked overmatched at times against Kuroda. The 36-year-old relies more on moxie than might these days but showed plenty against the lifeless Pirates.

"He can do pretty much what he wants with the baseball, if he's going," manager Don Mattingly said. "And that allows him to stay in ballgames."

Kuroda gave Mattingly little reason to take him out, holding Pittsburgh hitless for more than four innings then deftly getting his way out of a minor jam late.

"He had a real good fastball tonight, and then he mixed in a slider," catcher Rod Barajas said. "Once we knew that was working, we threw a lot of them. And when he has those going for him, he's going to win a lot of ballgames."

Kuroda didn't allow a hit until Wood's soft liner to left with one out in the fifth. On the two occasions he ran into trouble, he worked his way out of it by rearing back and getting strikeouts.

Maholm matched Kuroda zero for zero until the sixth.

Ivan De Jesus walked on four pitches and Andre Ethier lucked out when a moment of miscommunication between Maholm and first baseman Lyle Overbay allowed him to beat out an field single.

Both Maholm and Overbay broke on the chopper up the first-base line and neither was in position at the bag.

"It was just one of those plays where it was hit and where we weren't able to make a play," Maholm said.

Matt Kemp walked to load the bases and Juan Uribe followed with a grounder Maholm thought he could make a plan on but chose to let Wood turn a double play instead of trying to stab the ball and throw home for the force.

Then a bit of strategy by the Pirates backfired.

Maholm intentionally walked Barajas to get to Sands, who came in batting .206. Sands delivered a double into the right-field corner to plate Ethier and give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

It was all the support Kuroda would need.

Pittsburgh twice flirted with rallies. The Pirates put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the sixth but Chris Snyder whiffed at an 86 mph fastball from Kuroda to end the threat.

They had one more chance an inning later as pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit came to the plate with an opportunity to tie the game. Doumit hit a dramatic three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth on Sunday to give the Pirates a victory.

Not this time. He strung out swinging and the Pirates never threatened again.

The apathetic night at the plate ruined another solid start for Maholm. Pittsburgh has scored just 11 runs in his eight starts this season. Maholm allowed two runs and struck out three in six innings but fell to 0-5 all-time against Los Angeles even as his ERA dropped from 3.68 to 3.60.

Playing without regular second baseman Neil Walker didn't help. The team leader in RBIs was scratched about an hour before the first pitch with flulike symptoms.

The move forced manager Clint Hurdle to get creative with his lineup card. He gave usual shortstop Ronny Cedeno his first start at second base in nearly two years while moving Wood into Cedeno's spot.

The duo played flawless defense, but were part of another inept offensive effort by one of the National League's weakest hitting teams.

NOTES: The Pirates gave outfielder Jose Tabata the day off. Tabata has struggled since a hot start. Tabata is hitting just .125 (2 for 16) in his last five games ... Pittsburgh's Evan Meek threw off a mound for the first time since being sent to the disabled list on April 30 with shoulder tendinitis ... Dodger reliever Blake Hawksworth is day to day with a mild groin injury sustained while pitching on Tuesday.