Braves' Maholm makes debut versus Astros

Paul Maholm will have a chance to show why the Atlanta Braves acquired him before the trade deadline when he takes the mound tonight against the Houston Astros at Turner Field.

Maholm was acquired from the Chicago Cubs along with outfielder Reed Johnson in exchange for right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. It must have been hard for Chicago to part ways with Maholm, who went 5-0 with a sparkling 1.00 earned run average in his last seven games (6 starts) with his former team.

"You are wanting to make a good impression," Maholm said. "You have to go out there and pitch your game and do as well as you can."

The left-hander has had plenty of success in his days against the Astros, going 12-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts and beat them on June 29 this season with 8 1/3 shutout innings and six strikeouts.

Tim Hudson got the job done in his start on Friday during a 4-1 win over the Astros in which he improved to 5-0 in this series by allowing one unearned run in 7 1/3 innings. Hudson is 5-0 in his previous six outings overall and scattered four hits to improve to 11-4.

"(Hudson) is one of those guys, every time he goes out there he just performs for the team," teammate Martin Prado said. "We're just trying to get some runs to support him."

Prado and Dan Uggla both had an RBI double for the Braves, who have won nine of their last 10 games and are 15-6 since the All-Star break. The Braves are targeting their fourth straight series win and own a 7-1 mark on a 10-game homestand. Chipper Jones had two RBI and has hit safely in 27 of his last 31 games. Freddie Freeman went 0-for-2 with two walks and entered the night batting .368 with three homers, 18 RBI and a .455 on-base percentage since July 5.

Atlanta is now two games behind Washington for the NL East lead.

The Astros are a major league-worst 35-72 on the season. It is only 3-29 in its last 32 games and was swept in three games at Milwaukee before heading to Turner Field.

Armando Galarraga took the loss in his second start of the season, giving up four runs on five hits with seven walks and four strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.

"Galarraga really got his pitch count up by being behind in the count...but for the most part he seemed to pitch around the walks," Houston manager Brad Mills said.

J.D. Martinez drove in the lone run for the Astros, who are winless in 10 straight on the road and fell to 10-45 as the visitor.

Taking the mound for the Astros tonight will be Lucas Harrell, who is 2-1 in his past three decisions, spanning six starts. Harrell held Pittsburgh to two runs through 5 2/3 innings his last time out in a 9-5 win on Sunday to push his record to 8-7 in 21 starts to go along with a 4.03 ERA.

Harrell, a right-hander, is just 2-6 in 12 road starts this season and will face Atlanta for the first time.

Houston dropped two of three meetings to Atlanta at home back in early April and is 3-14 in the previous 17 matchups between the two clubs. The Braves are unbeaten in the past six games as the host.