The Atlanta Braves should be glad they missed out on Ryan Dempster before the trade deadline, as their second choice has clearly made his adjustments better. Paul Maholm shut out the New York Mets on Friday, giving up only three hits in the Braves' 4-0 win at Citi Field.
Maholm needed only 95 pitches and faced the minimum number of batters through five innings. The last Braves pitcher to need so few pitches in a shutout was Greg Maddux, who threw 89 pitches to beat the Florida Marlins on Sept. 13, 2000.
"My goal is to keep [the pitch count] under 90, just to keep it under 10 pitches per inning just for a challenge," Maholm said. "The main thing is making pitches and getting outs. Every time they got somebody on base tonight, I executed the pitches and they made the plays."
The lefty has given one or no runs in seven of his last eight starts, good enough to hold opponents to a .194 average an a 1.20 ERA.
"That's kind of a catcher's dream right there," David Ross said. "Whatever I threw down, he was making the pitch."
Maholm threw 48 pitches through five innings, but the Braves forced Mets starter Matt Harvey to use 33 pitches just in the first inning. One of those first inning pitches was drilled for a two-run homer to right-center by Jason Heyward.
Dan Uggla would tee off for his own two-run shot in the eight off Josh Edgin in the eighth. Uggla's 13th homer this season, along with two walks and a .278 average over his last 10 games may be signs that he is finally snapping out of his two-month long slump.
"He's been swinging it, and we've seen him get hot," Fredi Gonzalez said.
Maholm, meanwhile, got the Mets to ground into double plays in the first two innings, with Daniel Murphy's second-inning knock being their only hit through five innings. Rob Johnson's one-out double in the sixth and Scott Hairston's two-out double in the eighth accounted for the only other Mets hits.
"I feel good," Maholm said. "Everything is working. I'm just trying to get ahead. Rossy called a great game. It seemed like every time they were looking away, we came in with the cutter and got some broken bats and easy outs."
The Braves remain 4.5 games back of the Washington Nationals, who beat the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
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