SAN FRANCISCO -- Just eight games into the season, the Pirates might have already seen the best defensive play they will all season.
"That's a web gem, huh?" manager John Russell said. "That was amazing."
He was speaking, of course, of Paul Maholm's defensive play in the third inning of Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Giants. Teammate Garrett Jones made a fabulous lunging grab in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win. But Maholm's play is one that should still be playing on baseball highlight reels months from now.
It came with the Pirates leading, 3-1, and the Giants threatening with a runner on first and one out. San Francisco's Aubrey Huff knocked a ball past the mound, and it looked destined to settle somewhere deep on the infield grass between first baseman Jeff Clement and second baseman Aki Iwamura.
That didn't stop Maholm. He went after it immediately, and laid out to stop the ball with his glove. In one motion, he then rolled over while somehow managing to flip the ball from his glove to Clement. The flip was right on line, getting Maholm the out and a momentum killer at that.
"That's instinct," Maholm said of the play. "At that point you just have to get outs any way you can."
Just minutes after the Pirates sealed the win over the Giants, Maholm's teammates were already predicting where the defensive gem might end up in the hierarchy of daily plays on ESPN. And the Pirates weren't the only ones.
"That might be up there with Buehrle," said Giants starter Matt Cain, alluding to the defensive play Mark Buehrle made for the White Sox on Opening Day. "Those two guys might be competing for best play of the year. That's unbelievable, really. It's one of those things you definitely can't do on purpose."
Maholm completely concurred.
"You won't see it again either," joked Maholm. "I'll live on that one for a while."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.