Kerry Wood of the Cubs pitches in the eighth inning at Wrigley Field Friday, May 4, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Paul Maholm pitched six crisp innings for his third consecutive win and the Cubs held on for a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
Maholm (3-2) allowed one run and three hits while improving to 1-5 with a 4.91 ERA in nine career starts against Los Angeles. The left-hander has won his last three outings after dropping his first two, allowing three runs over 18 1-3 innings during the streak.
Matt Kemp hit a run-scoring triple and scored on Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly to get Los Angeles within one in the eighth. But Kerry Wood got Juan Rivera to fly out to end the inning. Rafael Dolis then finished for his second save in three chances, taking advantage of his first opportunity since Carlos Marmol was removed from the closer’s role.
David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano each had three hits to help the Cubs bounce back from a disappointing loss at Cincinnati. Pinch-hitter Joe Mather homered in the sixth.
Jerry Hairston hit a solo homer and a run-scoring triple for NL West-leading Los Angeles, which has dropped three of four. Chad Billingsley (2-2) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced Friday he had decided to try a committee of relievers in the closer spot, making the move one day after Marmol walked three and failed to record an out while blowing a save opportunity in a 4-3 loss to the Reds. The erratic right-hander has two blown saves in four chances this season and a 6.23 ERA in 12 games overall.
“It just got to that point where we got to get him productive in some role and he was fine with it and understood,” Sveum said. “Hopefully we can get him going to where give him another chance and get him going to where he can get back in that role.”
The new approach worked out on the first day, but just barely.
The Cubs carried a 4-1 lead into the seventh but Ethier greeted James Russell with a leadoff double and scored on Hairston’s two-out rope into right field. Hairston hustled around to third and A.J. Ellis followed with a walk against Shawn Camp, leaving runners on the corners.
But Camp responded by striking out pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu on four pitches in the veteran’s first plate appearance with Los Angeles.
Maholm struck out four and walked none in his third consecutive sharp outing. Dee Gordon’s sixth-inning comebacker appeared to plunk him on the right leg, but he remained in the game after a few warmup pitches.
Maholm became the first big league starter to win three straight games after a winless stretch of nine or more starts since Houston’s Brett Myers last season, according to STATS, LLC. Maholm was 0-7 with a 7.03 ERA in nine previous starts before he beat Cincinnati on April 21.
Abreu signed with the Dodgers on Friday, insisting he was OK with a reserve role after years as a regular with the Angels, Philadelphia and the New York Yankees. He played left field.