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Paul Maholm, Pirates Start Series Against Padres

(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres have had a rough go of it lately on the road. A trip to Pittsburgh, though, could be just what they need, as the Padres open a three-game series against the Pirates tonight at PNC Park.

The Padres, who are 25-20 away from home this season, enter tonight's affair having dropped two of three in Atlanta and are 3-6 in the last nine games away from home. However, San Diego has traditionally thrived in the Steel City, where it hasn't lost a series since 2001.

San Diego's lead atop the National League West stands at three games over the San Francisco Giants, despite the series loss in Atlanta that culminated with an 8-0 setback on Thursday.

Clayton Richard (7-5) was tagged for nine hits and four runs (three earned) in six innings for the Padres, who were coming off Wednesday's come-from-behind 6-4 triumph in 12 innings.

"Definitely the first few innings I threw a lot more balls than I wanted to," said Richard. "When you're pounding the strike zone, good things usually happen. When you don't it's usually the opposite. That was the case the first three innings today."

Tonight the Padres turn to righty Kevin Correia, who is 6-6 with a 5.22 ERA. Correia beat the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, holding them to three runs and seven hits in six innings. The victory was his first in eight starts, but the Padres are 7-3 in his last 10 outings.

Correia has faced the Pirates six times (three starts) and is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, was denied a series sweep against Milwaukee, falling 3-2 in Thursday's finale.

Ross Ohlendorf (1-8) was the hard-luck loser, allowing one run on five hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts for Pittsburgh, which lost for only the second time in its last six tries. Neil Walker went 2-for-3 and drove in both Pirates runs in the loss.

"You give up one run in six innings you can feel pretty good about it, especially against a pretty good offensive club," Pirates manager John Russell said of Ohlendorf's outing.

Pittsburgh had outscored Milwaukee 26-12 in the first two games of the set.

A big reason for that offensive outburst by the Pirates was the play of rookie third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who is hitting .417 (10-for-24) with four home runs, nine RBI and seven runs scored in six games since the All-Star break.

Alvarez homered four times in the first two games against the Brewers, as he became just the second player in the majors this season to homer twice in consecutive games.

Hoping for that kind of support tonight will be left-hander Paul Maholm, who didn't need any runs the last time he pitched. Maholm tossed a three-hit shutout to beat the Houston Astros on Sunday to run his record to 6-7 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 4.03.

Maholm, though, is 0-2 in three starts against the Padres with a 3.05 ERA.

San Diego is 8-3 in its last 11 trips to Pittsburgh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.