VIERA, Fla. -- After battling inconsistent command in his two previous starts, Paul Maholm spent the past few days making some slight mechanical adjustments to his delivery. His efforts appeared to be beneficial as he baffled the Nationals for five innings during Monday's 7-2 win at Space Coast Stadium.
"That was their number one lineup," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He had his breaking ball biting. He had a nice spin on his breaking ball and commanded the fastball to both sides [of the plate] and threw some nice changeups. He did a nice job."
Working five innings for the first time this spring, Maholm surrendered two hits, tallied five strikeouts and induced eight ground-ball outs. The only ball the Nationals hit out of the infield against him came courtesy of Bryce Harper's two-out single to right field in the first inning.
"No matter what lineup you're facing, you want to feel comfortable," Maholm said. "You want, at this point, to start getting your pitches where they need to be. Both breaking balls were working well today, and the few changeups I threw were good. To have a bunch of ground balls is pretty much what I need. That's definitely the most normal I've felt on the mound since we've been down here."
Maholm allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Phillies on Feb. 28 and uncharacteristically issued four walks in 3 2/3 innings against the Yankees last Tuesday. Leading up to this outing against the Nationals, the 30-year-old southpaw focused on regaining his timing by slowing his delivery.
"Whenever I get kind of off-balance, my arm is kind of behind and I have to kind of rush and get it back to where it is supposed to be," Maholm said. "I was just kind of missing pitches. That's the way it has been the last couple of outings. Hopefully, I'm smart enough to figure it out and keep it going the same way the whole time."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less