Braves hand ball to streaking Maholm against Pirates

Streaking lefty Paul Maholm gets a fourth look at his former team on Saturday night when the Atlanta Braves meet the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third game of a four-game set at PNC Park.

Maholm, a first-round pick of the Pirates in 2003, was 53-73 with them through parts of seven seasons before becoming a free agent to begin 2012.

He signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs and was 9-6 through 21 appearances, then was traded to the Braves as part of a four-player deal on July 30.

He finished the season with four wins in nine decisions over 11 starts, then hit the ground running to start this month and has won three straight outings while not allowing a run in 20 1/3 innings.

He went 7 2/3 innings, walked one and struck out seven in his most recent start on April 14 while defeating the Washington Nationals, 9-0.

Maholm is 1-1 in three starts against the Pirates and is 36-32 in 99 career starts at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh counters with righty James McDonald, who's been inconsistent in three 2013 starts.

The California native opened the year with a tough-luck loss after allowing a single run in seven innings of a 3-2 defeat by the Chicago Cubs.

He was touched for four runs in five innings while beating Arizona, 6-5, five days later, then didn't get through the second inning while surrendering eight runs in a 10-6 loss to St. Louis on April 15.

McDonald is 3-0 in six meetings with Atlanta with a stingy 1.50 earned run average in 30 innings.

On Friday, Wandy Rodriguez tossed seven spectacular innings and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer as the Pirates beat the Braves, 6-0.

Garrett Jones knocked in two runs for the Pirates, who bounced back from a 6-4 loss in the series opener on Thursday. Jose Tabata had an RBI and a run scored.

Rodriguez (2-0) gave up just one hit and struck out five for Pittsburgh. Mark Melancon and Vin Mazzaro each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

"Wandy was very aggressive and very good with the first-pitch strike. He worked ahead and minimized deep counts against a very good hitting team. It was just what we needed," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Atlanta starter Tim Hudson (2-1), who was trying for his 200th career victory, gave up six runs on nine hits over four-plus innings.

"He was getting fly balls, his pitches aren't sinking," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez "He left some balls over the plate, but we didn't do anything offensively to help him out."

The Pirates won four of seven games between the teams in 2012, while the Braves took four of six in 2011.