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Hot-hitting Bay captains Pirates past Reds

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Paul Maholm is already focused on the 2006
season.

The 23-year-old left-hander, hoping to be a part of next year's
rotation, struck out a career-high eight in eight innings to lead
the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 Saturday.

"Right now it's kind of a tryout for me. I'm just trying to
state my case to stay here for a long time," said Maholm (2-0),
who allowed four hits in his fourth major league start.

"You always hope to do well, but you just want to show you're
ready. As well as I'm doing is a huge shock to me."

Jason Bay extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a solo
homer in the first inning and added an RBI single in the third,
helping the Pirates win for the third time in four games. Bay is
17-for-40 (.425) with five homers and 15 RBI during the streak.

Freddie Sanchez also homered, becoming the first Pittsburgh
player to hit a leadoff homer since Tike Redman on Aug. 12, 2003,
against St. Louis.

Aaron Harang (10-13) allowed four runs and seven hits in six
innings and has lost two of his last three decisions. He struck out
five.

Maholm, who struck out the side in the sixth, has pitched into
the seventh inning in all four starts. He also pitched eight sharp
innings in his major league debut, a 6-0 win at Milwaukee Aug. 30.

"He just dominated the whole game," Pirates interim manager
Pete Mackanin said. "He cruised the whole way. He had everything
going, and they were off-balance. It was a very impressive
performance."

Nate McLouth led off the fifth with a double and beat catcher
Javier Valentin's throw to third on Maholm's sacrifice bunt.
McLouth scored on Jack Wilson's one-out sacrifice fly to make it
4-0, with Maholm advancing to second. Maholm was thrown out at home
after Bay singled to left.

Bay's single drove in Wilson in the third inning after Wilson
singled with two outs and stole second base.

"I just didn't throw as well as I have been," Harang said. "I
went out there and tried to keep my team in the game and just
didn't execute a couple of pitches and paid for it."

Bay's homer in the first inning was his 30th of the season.

"To hit 30 homers in the big leagues in my second year is an
accomplishment I'll never forget," Bay said. "The last two weeks
I've had opportunities; I'm seeing more pitches, and that
definitely helps. Early on, I wasn't getting a lot of pitches to
hit."

Maholm pitched out of two early jams.

Edwin Encarnacion walked and advanced to third on Ryan Freel's
one-out single in the third, but he was thrown out at home on
Felipe Lopez's grounder to third baseman Rob Mackowiak. Maholm then
retired Rich Aurilia on a fly ball.

A leadoff single by Adam Dunn and a walk to Austin Kearns gave
the Reds two runners in the fourth, but Wily Mo Pena bounced into a
double play before Valentin grounded out.

"Honestly, Pittsburgh has three good young pitchers to build
with in Maholm, Zach Duke and Oliver Perez," Cincinnati interim
manager Jerry Narron said. "Maholm and Zach Duke are definitely
big league pitchers, and we all know Perez is."

Ryan Freel had three of the four hits by Cincinnati, which
played its second game without first baseman Sean Casey, who
sustained a concussion in the first game of a doubleheader Friday.

"One thing is, with Casey out, we can't feel sorry for
ourselves," Narron said. "We have to keep battling and
grinding."

Game notes
Ken Griffey Jr. missed his 12th consecutive game with a
strained right foot. ... Bay has started all 148 games for the
Pirates ... Adam Dunn needs three runs and eight RBI to become the
first player in franchise history with 100 walks, runs and RBI
twice. Joe Morgan had all three in 1976. ... Freel entered the game
with one hit in his last 20 at-bats.