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04/29/07 6:40 PM ET

Maholm has letdown in Pirates' loss

Starter lasts just four innings; Pittsburgh drops series finale

PITTSBURGH -- What a difference five days meant to Pirates lefty Paul Maholm. On Tuesday, he tossed a three-hit complete game shutout against Houston. On Sunday afternoon, he disappointed a crowd of 18,409 at PNC Park as the Pirates lost, 9-5, to the Reds.

"The disappointing thing about today," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said, "is we didn't pitch well at all in the middle innings of the game. We started off very well offensively and had that game unfolded in the manner in which it started out, it would have been interesting to see where our offense was going to continue to go."

Maholm got some offensive support, but only lasted four innings. He allowed six runs on seven hits and absorbed the loss to drop his record to 1-3 on the season. A five-run fourth inning doomed Maholm, who came in with a 1.29 ERA through his first two starts at PNC Park this season.

"What we saw in the fourth inning with Maholm, the ball came up in the strike zone and there were deep counts and there were hittable fastballs," Tracy said. "[There were] base on balls that set stages for guys to take one swing and put multiple runs up. That's his formula to get beat, and that's exactly what happened."

Maholm was disappointed with his outing, his shortest of the season.

"I was being aggressive, but probably being over aggressive and over throwing," Maholm said. "I was trying to get myself out of a jam with one pitch and not doing what I needed to do. It was one of those things where the game was going a little too quick, and I didn't slow it down. My breaking ball wasn't good, and I was falling behind and having to throw fastballs and that is the disaster plan. That's how it goes whenever it's going bad, it just kind of spirals out of control.

"It's a long season, and I understand what went wrong and we'll go from there."

After a shaky start, Reds ace Aaron Harang settled down and tossed eight-plus innings. He surrendered five runs on 10 hits, but hung on for the victory to improve his record to 4-0. He had nine strikeouts.

"When you get a guy like Aaron Harang that has the history that he's had over the course of the last couple of years, you get him down and you let him get back up," Tracy said. "I've seen him do things like he did today before. You get a guy that's a workhorse, and you give him a second wind, which is exactly what we did. He knuckles down once he gets that lead, and we're not going to get another chance at him. That's pretty much what happened today."

The Pirates' struggling offense came to life in the bottom of the second inning. Jason Bay led off with a single. With one out, catcher Ryan Doumit singled. Jose Bautista hit an RBI ground-rule double to left-center. Maholm then helped himself with a two-run single, staking the Bucs to a 3-0 lead.

The Reds got to Maholm in the top of the third inning. Edwin Encarnacion hit a leadoff single. David Ross followed with a single. With two outs, Brandon Phillips stroked an RBI single.

The Pirates came right back against Harang in the bottom of the third. With one out, Bay doubled off the wall in right field. Ryan Doumit cracked an RBI double off the right-field wall, scoring Bay to increase the Pirates' lead to 4-1.

The Reds exploded in the top of the fourth inning. Jeff Conine singled, Alex Gonzalez drew a walk and Adam Dunn walked to load the bases. Encarnacion lashed a three-run triple into deep left-center field. With one out, Harang singled in Encarnacion. Phillips hit a two-out run-scoring double, driving in Ryan Freel and putting the Reds on top, 6-4.

Pirates reliever Shawn Chacon gave up a two-run homer to Dunn in the top of the fifth inning as the Reds increased their advantage to 8-4.

Gonzalez hit a solo home run in the seventh.

Doumit hit a lead-off homer in the ninth inning. It was his first home run of the season, and he tied a career-high with four hits.

"Offensively, you can't say enough about the job that Ryan Doumit did with the bat today," Tracy said. "He hit a lot of different pitches. The home run he hit in that situation, I was very pleased to see. You're down 9-4 and this guy puts on an at-bat as if it were a tie game or a one-run game. That's what you like to see."

Doumit said he is feeling comfortable at the plate right now.

"I'm seeing the ball well," Doumit said. "My swing is right where I feel like I need it to be, and I'm getting a chance to get in there and play."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.