Maholm, Cubs hitting stride

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are beginning to play better baseball and part of the reason is solid starting pitching.

Left-hander Paul Maholm continued that trend on Friday, throwing six innings of one-run baseball while winning his third consecutive start. The team’s ERA during the last 12 games is under 2.40. Maholm has an ERA of 1.20 in his last three outings.

“The command of the curve ball has been big for him,” said manager Dale Sveum. “One of his first games, it was as cold as it could possibly be, and when you are a feel pitcher with four different pitches it’s not the easiest thing to do.”

Maholm is one of four starters who have given the team a chance to win as of late. The Cubs are 7-5 since April 21, holding teams to a .190 batting average over that period of time.

“So far we are trying to out-pitch each other,” Maholm said. “It’s a little friendly competition where you are pushing each other so you try to go out there and do everything you can to match it.”

Maholm had to come out of the game after six innings do to a sore right leg. The Dodgers’ Dee Gordon hit a one-hopper off of the pitcher’s right leg.

“I wasn’t going to argue with (the coaches),” he said. “I was still good to go back out and pitch, but they made a decision for a pinch-hitter and obviously it was throbbing, so I wasn’t going to argue.”

End-game switch

The Cubs’ new closer for the day was Rafael Dolis, who replaced the ineffective Carlos Marmol. Dolis worked his way out of a jam by getting Bobby Abreu to line out with the tying run on base for his second save of the season.

“That is part of the reason why we think he can handle this role,” said Sveum. “During spring training, he showed a lot of poise. He bounces back even if he goes ball one or two, he doesn’t lose the count. It’s been pretty impressive what he has been able to do at such a young age.”


• Sveum was ejected from the game by home-plate umpire Marty Foster. The skipper was standing up for a pitch by Dolis that would have ended the game to A.J. Ellis.

“I was asking questions,” Sveum said. “I just asked the wrong one.”

• Sveum said after the game that Saturday’s starter Matt Garza will be scratched do to a virus. Right-hander Chris Volstad will start instead of Garza.