Pittsburgh, PA – Gaby Sanchez stroked a go-ahead two-run homer and James McDonald spun six innings of one-run ball as the Pittsburgh Pirates edged the Atlanta Braves, 3-1, at PNC Park.
Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI and Jason Grilli struck out the side in the ninth to record his sixth save and preserve the Pirates' second straight win over Atlanta in this four-game set.
McDonald (2-2) was a bit erratic early, but settled down and finished with nine strikeouts. He allowed just two hits and walked four.
"I felt confident in everything I did," said McDonald. "No negative thoughts entered my mind tonight."
The Pirates were able to knock former draft pick Paul Maholm (3-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten. Maholm had not allowed a run in his first three starts, but surrendered three in the sixth to absorb the loss.
The Braves, losers in three of four since winning 10 straight, were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and managed just four hits.
Atlanta's best chance for a big inning came in the second, when it had the bases loaded and no one out, but came away with just one run to show for it.
McDonald struck out Juan Francisco, who fanned four times on the day, but then walked Andrelton Simmons to force in the first run of the game. However, McDonald rebounded by striking out Maholm and B.J. Upton to get out of the jam.
Maholm was dealing early, giving up just one hit through his first four innings of work. He escaped trouble in the fifth by striking out the side after putting two runners on to start the frame, but the Pirates finally broke through in the sixth.
Starling Marte drew a leadoff walk and Jose Tabata bunted him over to second. Marte then came around to tie the score on McCutchen's double off the right field wall, and Sanchez's two-run blast to straight away center created a 3-1 Pirates lead.
Maholm finished the inning, and his consecutive scoreless frames streak ended at 25 1/3 innings. The former Pirate, who spent seven years with the club, ended with five strikeouts and gave up four hits and three walks.
"I'm not really worried about the streak, it was going to happen," said Maholm. "I wish it would have happened where we score five and I give up three and we win."
The Braves managed just two singles the rest of the game.
The teams will conclude their series on Sunday. The Braves will send Kris Medlen to the mound and the Pirates will counter with Jonathan Sanchez ... Pittsburgh was 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position ... Pittsburgh's Russell Martin made his first start at third base since Aug. 20, 2008, when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He ended the game playing catcher ... Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla left the game with a left calf strain. He is considered day-to-day.