The fast-working lefty on the mound Thursday at Wrigley Field was sure to make quick work of the opposition.
Mark Buehrle? Nah.
The Cubs had their own up-tempo southpaw going in Paul Maholm, and he proved to be a lot longer-lasting than Buehrle in a 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins.
If you blinked, you might have missed that Maholm (8-6, 4.09 ERA) is the winningest Cubs pitcher and one with a 4-game winning streak.
In a crisply paced game that took 2 hours and 18 minutes, Maholm worked 8 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run. It was pretty much as simple as getting it and throwing it, a trait that has been Buehrle's calling card for years, mostly with the White Sox. On Thursday.
"Obviously, I think it's the same with Buehrle," Maholm said. "You watch him over his career. You just work fast. You mix speeds. You keep the ball down. You put your defense to work, and they make plays. I'm all about trying to get it over with quick."
That's a tried-and-true method for any pitcher, and one wonders why more don't follow it. Whatever, Maholm has stepped up the pace of late and has been rewarded.
"I think he's learned to set the tempo and trust (catcher Geovany) Soto and trust the game plan that (coaching assistant Mike) Borzello puts together every day," manager Dale Sveum said. "Just not thinking too much. Just visualizing the pitch you're going to throw and go do it."
Maholm got help from both his fielders and his hitters. The Cubs scored all their runs in the fifth inning, Buehrle's last. Alfonso Soriano led off with a homer. The other big hit was a 2-run, two-out single by Reed Johnson, who started in center field (later moving to right) because the Marlins were throwing a lefty.
Johnson saved his best for the field, making a diving catch in the eighth to rob Jose Reyes with one out in a 4-1 game. The ball was hit to the gap, and Johnson made a diving, backhanded stab, running from right field. It's not the first time he's made a catch like that, but he wasn't exactly sure he could get to it.
"I wasn't," he said. "Really, honestly, I kind of put my head down at first and took a few steps. Fortunately, the wind was kind of blowing across, back toward me, so it kind of checked the ball up a little bit and gave me time to run underneath it."
Like Johnson, Jeff Baker was another role player in the game because a lefty was going. Baker had a pair of singles and is 7-for-10 against the Marlins this season.
With the Cubs (38-53) having won 14 of 19, Baker was thinking big in a fun sort of way.
"What are we now in the wild card?" he asked. "How bad is that? How far away? Eleven, 12? I'm not saying that we're going to win a wild card, but we're playing better baseball. We joke around in here. Obviously there's (trade) rumors and whatnot going around. We joke around we're going to start adding pieces.
"Hey, we take a lot of pride, and obviously, we don't want to let down the people that believe in us. Going out there and playing better baseball is part of the gig. Hopefully, we can stay under the radar and keep going."