CHICAGO -- Saturday's game didn't look like a promising matchup for Paul Maholm, but he pitched his best game of the season to end a pair of streaks.
Maholm held the Reds to four hits and one run over six innings as the Cubs snapped their six-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory at Wrigley Field despite trade rumors swirling around one of their regulars.
"After my first two outings, today was much better," Maholm said. "A lot of ground balls, ahead [in the count], using all my pitches. The defense picked me up and the offense got rolling pretty quick."
Maholm (1-2) entered the game with a 13.50 ERA and was 0-7 with a 7.10 ERA over nine starts dating back to last July 10. However, he worked out of jams in the first and third while earning his first win as a member of the Cubs. Maholm hadn't won since last July 10, when he beat the Cubs as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"We got some clutch pitching in some situations there and got out of some jams," manager Dale Sveum said. "Didn't let bleeding continue, which was good. We got big outs when we had to. "
Starlin Castro paced Chicago's attack with a double and an RBI triple. He's now reached base in 54 of his last 55 games going back to Aug. 11 of last season. Joe Mather, Reed Johnson and Darwin Barney also doubled for the Cubs, giving them more than two extra-base hits for just the third time this season. The Cubs scored just 14 runs during their losing streak and no more than four in any one game.
"That was a great game for us, from top to bottom," Mather said.
It wasn't all good news for Castro, as he committed errors in both the fourth and the fifth. Maholm was able to work around both mistakes, but concerns remain about the defensive work of the young shortstop. Castro has committed seven errors on the season, the most in the Majors. Last season, his 29 errors were second to Baltimore's Mark Reynolds in all of baseball. As a team, the Cubs led the Majors with 134 errors in 2011.
"I'm not going to sit there and talk to everybody when they make an error," Sveum said. "We might talk about one of them where he could have changed the mechanics on."
Cubs reliever James Russell worked around more defensive foibles in the seventh. Tony Campana lost Todd Frazier's fly ball in the sun, crumpling to the ground as the ball glanced off his body. Zack Cosart then lined a ball to right-center field that Campana just missed, advancing Frazier to third. Russell recovered to set down the next three without allowing a run.
Castro's triple highlighted Chicago's four-run second. Mather had an RBI double, and David DeJesus singled and scored. The top three of the Cubs' lineup -- DeJesus, Barney and Castro -- combined for seven hits, four runs and three RBIs. The Cubs beat Reds starter Mike Leake, who entered the game 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA in his career against Chicago.
Sveum called Mather's double with the pitcher on deck the game's biggest hit.
"[Leake] did throw a changeup, not that I was looking for it," Mather said. "That was probably the right pitch to throw. He just left it in a spot that was hittable."
Backup catcher Steve Clevenger had three singles, raising his average to .588 on the season.
"He's doing great," Sveum said. "His earned run average when he's catching is unbelievable. He's blocking balls, swinging the bat really well. He's doing a great job."
Clevenger talked about how Maholm turned things around after a long first inning in which he allowed two hits and a walk but held the Reds to one run.
"After the first inning, we kind of worked in and out and mixed in all of his pitches," Clevenger said. "As a starter, you kind of want to hide one or two pitches for later in the ballgame. We just went straight to it."
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.