Maholm spins same tale, falls to 0-2

ST. LOUIS -- The new guys at the back end of the Chicago Cubs rotation still appear to be in an adjustment period.

Paul Maholm was roughed up for a second consecutive start, following up his shaky debut last week against the Milwaukee Brewers with a rocky outing against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

Maholm gave up six runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in just four innings. He made just 70 pitches, 42 for strikes. And that was with Albert Pujols no longer in St. Louis, while David Freese and Lance Berkman were out of the lineup.

"It’s the same thing as the first start: You give them base runners and they take advantage of it,” Maholm said. “It’s frustrating. But I’m going to bust it this week and make sure to get through it and get back to where I was.”

Chris Volstad, who came over from the Marlins in the Carlos Zambrano trade, at least looks to be headed in the right direction after also starting the season winless in two starts. He at least offered a quality start Saturday, although he was done in by a four-run inning (one of the runs was unearned).

Manager Dale Sveum was looking for an adjustment from Maholm on Sunday that he didn’t seem to get.

“He has to pitch with his sinker,” Sveum said. “I don’t think he was doing enough of that the other day. He was trying to do too many different things and he got out of what Paul Maholm has success doing and that is keeping the ball down and getting ground balls early.”

Well at least now we can rule out the weather as a reason for Maholm’s struggles. When he made his Cubs debut on Tuesday against the Brewers it was cold and windy at Wrigley Field. Sunday was perfect pitching weather with just a touch of humidity.

It hasn’t been easy for him to stomach after coming over to the Cubs on a one-year, $4.25 million deal.

“These first two starts I would rather the team won and not be sitting here,” he said. “But it’s not how it happened. It’s a long season and I’m going to get it going. All these guys in here are busting it and expecting to win and that’s how we’re going to do it.”

Maholm’s result Sunday was nearly identical to his outing last week when he also gave up six runs on six hits in four innings to the Brewers. But his struggles actually date much further back than that.

Since beating the Cubs on July 10 of last season while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Maholm is now 0-7 with a 7.03 ERA.

“I’m not going to say it doesn’t [become a factor] when you haven’t had a win in a while,” Sveum said. “That’s something as a starting pitcher you’re built upon is winning. It would be nice to break that streak when it happens, but I think sometimes it does weigh on you, no question about it.”

Maholm tried to dispute that, though, saying he doesn’t dwell on the past.

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I won,” Maholm said. “My goal is to go out there and go seven innings and win the game no matter how the outing before went or whether it was good or bad. That’s what I will expect next week when I take the ball is that I will go deep in the game and we’re going to win.”

Maholm is only one of six major league left-handers to pitch at least 1,100 innings over the last six seasons so he has remained healthy. But if the intention to add him to the roster came from the desire to have an innings eater, that has also not worked.

Maholm is the only Cubs starter not to have pitched at least 11 innings over his first two outings.

“My next bullpen I’m going to figure it out,” Maholm said. “I will get after it like I do every time and hopefully this is just getting the bad starts out of the way quick.”