Paul Maholm pitches third career shutout to beat Cubs

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The big surprise here is that neither of his previous shutouts came against the Cubs.

Veteran left-hander Paul Maholm pitched a three-hitter Saturday as the Pirates won 10-0 at Wrigley Field.  He struck out four and walked none in the 91-pitch gem.

Ronny Cedeno, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Andrew McCutchen all went deep in the game.

It was just the second win of the year for Maholm.  He leads the NL with seven losses despite an ERA that dropped from 3.65 to 3.18 today.

The Pirates gave some thought to trading Maholm last year, but it would have been a case of selling low.  He had his worst year as a big leaguer in 2010, going 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA.

Now that he appears on his way to maybe his best or his second-best season (he had a 3.71 ERA and a nice 1.28 WHIP in 206 1/3 innings in 2008), he could bring a couple of quality prospects in return this summer.  The Pirates are also in better position to move him, considering that they’d still have three-fifths of a decent rotation in place with Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.

But before giving away their players again, we might as well let the Pirates enjoy this one.  They’re back up to 24-26 on the season, and they’ll have a chance to go for a sweep in Chicago when Jeff Karstens faces Ryan Dempster on Sunday.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.