Pirates 4, Phillies 3

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Starter Paul Maholm had a decent second outing, marred only by Ben Francisco’s solo homer. Maholm has said he is making it a point to pitch inside this spring (and then into the season), but Francisco reminded Maholm there is still work to do.

A pitch that was supposed to be on the inside corner caught too much of the plate, and Francisco drilled it over the left field wall.

“Just more reason to continue to pound in,” Maholm said afterward. “If you miss, you [want to] miss more inside.”

Maholm scattered three other hits, but he didn’t allow a walk or another run in the three-inning outing. He did make a noticeable effort to throw inside and did so pretty effectively. Maholm also mixed in more breaking pitches than he had in his first outing and was pleased with the command of those pitches.

“I got ahead of guys,” Maholm said. “I had some groundballs. I’m right where I want to be. It’s getting more comfortable each time out. I felt a lot more comfortable today throwing inside. I missed a couple of them, but that’s part of getting through it. Now, for me, it’s flipping the switch. It’s time to make sure you mix all your pitches and get outs and go toward the season ready to go.”

Maholm had allowed two runs in a two-inning start his first time on the mound. The left-hander should make four or five more spring appearances before he takes the mound for his 2011 season debut.

“I thought Paul improved also this start,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He used both sides of the plate. He spun some breaking balls pretty well. It was a nice step forward for him.”

***

Scott Olsen threw a bullpen session on Saturday without any issue. Olsen, who is behind because of a mild left hamstring strain he suffered early in camp, has not had any setbacks in his return-to-pitch program. The club has not announced what Olsen’s next step will be in his progression back.

***

As pleased as Overbay was with his 3-for-3 day at the plate, he was just as disgusted at himself for not making a catch in foul territory that he should have had. This is a guy who wants to improve on the offensive end, but one who really takes pride in his defensive ability.

***

Corey Wimberly finally flashed the speed we’ve all been waiting to see, though he hasn’t been on base enough to have many chances. After walking in the seventh, Wimberly almost immediately swiped second and then third. The guy can run.

As a team, the club had four stolen bases on Saturday. That pushes the team total to 15.

“You’ve got to encourage them to go,” Hurdle said. “When the season comes, they’ll probably need a little more encouragement because in their minds, there might be a little more at stake. But one thing we have to do is utilize the skill sets we have with the personnel we have.”

Wimberly still doesn’t have a hit this spring (0-for-10) but he has drawn three walks. He also made a terrific defensive play in the hole the other day that deserved blog mentioning but didn’t get any previously. The key is that he needs to show the Pirates he can fill in capably at short.

***

On the main site, you can find more about the Pirates’ cuts from the morning. Also coming later this afternoon: Overbay talks about the adjustment he made before his three-hit day; and Dusty Brown and Jason Jaramillo chime in about the team’s pitching.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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