STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Junior left-hander Paul Maholm struck out a season-high 10 and first baseman Matthew Brinson drove in three of the Bulldogs' four runs Friday night to lead No. 16 Mississippi State (32-12-1, 13-8) to a 4-2 win over SEC-leading and fifth-ranked Louisiana State (31-15-1, 15-6-1) at Dudy Noble Field."> STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Junior left-hander Paul Maholm struck out a season-high 10 and first baseman Matthew Brinson drove in three of the Bulldogs' four runs Friday night to lead No. 16 Mississippi State (32-12-1, 13-8) to a 4-2 win over SEC-leading and fifth-ranked Louisiana State (31-15-1, 15-6-1) at Dudy Noble Field.">

MSU Defeats LSU, 4-2

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/baseball/polkinbox.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="179"> STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Junior left-hander Paul Maholm struck out a season-high 10 and first baseman Matthew Brinson drove in three of the Bulldogs' four runs Friday night to lead No. 16 Mississippi State (32-12-1, 13-8) to a 4-2 win over SEC-leading and fifth-ranked Louisiana State (31-15-1, 15-6-1) at Dudy Noble Field.

Maholm scattered nine hits, walked five, stranded two base runners in the second, third and fifth innings and got solid backing from the Bulldog defense, which turned three double plays.

Brinson, who turned in a 6-for-10 performance in last year's two-game set at LSU, laced a solo home run, doubled in a pair of runs and scored State's final run.

Greg Smith (0-1) was charged with three runs on five hits during his three-inning relief stint and absorbed the loss. LSU starter Justin Meier scattered five hits, walked five and struck out one in five innings.

The win lifted the Bulldogs into second place tie with Auburn (32-13, 13-8), rained out in its Friday night series opener at home against Florida.

LSU scored the game's first run, getting a pair of two-out walks and a single to right by Will Harris. Jon Zeringue, the lead runner, advanced a base when Steve Gendron dropped a pick-off throw at third base. Matthew Brinson tied the score in the bottom of the inning, leading off the inning with his eighth home run of the season. The blast extended Brinson's hitting streak to a career-best 13 games.

The Tigers threatened again in the third when Maholm walked Ryan Patterson and Aaron Hill followed with a ground-rule double in the right field corner. But Maholm worked out of the jam, striking out Clay Harris and Blake Gill to end the inning. State likewise threatened in the third when Meier issued a pair of two-out walks, with Meier retiring Brad Corley on a fly ball to center field to finish the frame.

LSU took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Zeringue doubled and Quinn Stewart followed with an RBI single up the middle.

Meier, who checked the Bulldogs on five hits over the first five innings, issued his fourth and fifth walks to open the sixth, and was replaced on the hill by lefty Greg Smith. Smith retired the next three Bulldog batters, two on strikeouts, to thwart another MSU rally.

Mississippi State jumped on Smith for three runs on four hits in the seventh to take a 4-2 lead. Maniscalco and Gendron singled and Brinson cleared the bases with a double into the right field corner. Brinson raced home with the Bulldogs' third run of the inning on Corley's single to right.

Maholm worked into the eighth, leaving the game with two outs and runners at second on a single to Blake Gill and walk issued to Zeringue. Jonathan Papelbon entered the game and struck out pinch hitter Ivan Naccarata and then set the Tigers down in order in the ninth to record his seventh save.

The win and the save moved Maholm and Papelbon into seventh place among MSU's career leaders in those categories. Maholm owns a 25-7 career mark while Papelbon has 13 career saves.

The Bulldogs and the Tigers continue their three-game weekend series Saturday at 3:06 p.m. The game will be televised regionally by FOX Sports Net South as the SEC-TV Game of the Week. During pregame ceremonies, Mississippi State will retire the jersey for former Bulldog and Boston Red Sox hurler David "Boo" Ferriss.

MISSISSIPPI STATE 4, LSU 2

LSU 010 100 000 -- 2- 9-0
MSU 010 000 30x -- 4-10-1
WP -- Paul Maholm (7-2). LP -- Greg Smith (0-1). SV -- Paul Maholm (7). HR -- (MSU) Matthew Brinson (8). T -- 2:45. ATT -- 6,985 (paid), 5,472 (actual).

Paul Maholm, Jonathan Papelbon (8) and Craig Tatum. Justin Meier, Greg Smith (6) and Matt Liuzza.

MATTHEW MANISCALCO:

Moving runners and clutch hitting.
"We had a lot of chances to move runners early but we couldn't get it done. But to come through like that and have a big inning is a key to the victory."

How does it feel to be back home?
"Unbelievable. During my career, the last two places (South Carolina, Florida) we played have been the toughest places to play on the road. To win one there, that is something that we didn't do my freshman, sophomore and junior years. Everybody feels like we are down a little, but to come back home in front of a great crowd, a great atmosphere and to win like this is huge for our confidence."

Paul Maholm's pitching.
"He pitched very well. Paul didn't get as many ground ball outs as he usually does, but I think he was a little juiced up where he was trying to strike everybody out. He did a great job for us tonight."

Talk about (LSU's) Justin Meier.
"He is a talented freshman. He will give them a chance to win in every single game. He is a little wild and it kind of got him in trouble, but he found a way to get out of it. We kind of helped him out by not being able to get those sac bunts down and moving the runners. He got out of those and hats off to him, but, if we take care of business, we would have had a great chance."

As good as Paul has been, was it almost crucial for you, especially against a team like LSU, to get that Friday win?
"Yeah, it is huge. It takes a load off now. We come out and win tomorrow, we have the series won. And that is what we are going to try and do. We are going to take it game by game."

You lead off seven innings with a hit or walk, but couldn't score most of those innings.
"We should have scored a lot more. That goes back to not bunting guys over and not getting guys moved from second to third. To win big games, we have to pick that up. I am kind of disappointed in the way we did that tonight."

It sounded like the crowd was juiced in the seventh after Brinson hit that double down the line. It seemed like they came alive.
"Yeah, that is what we had been trying to do. We kept getting the leadoff man on, but we weren't able to get the crowd in it. We want to give them something to cheer about, but if you are scoring runs, moving runners and getting it done, it is tough for the crowd to get in it."

Brinson seems to have gotten more emotional lately. He looked real fired up.
"He's gotten more emotional lately. I don't know what has gotten into him. I guess he is trying to pick us up. We know. We just relax. Brinson is a firey player and likes to get into it. He came through with a couple of big plays."

PAUL MAHOLM:

From a pitcher's standpoint, talk about Brinson's seventh inning hit.
"It was huge. We were about one hit away the entire game. It's about clutch hits and Brinson came up with it and Corley came through with another one."

You don't normally have a lot of strikeouts but you got them tonight.
"I think I have learned how to pick my spots, when to go for them and when not to. My pitch count had gotten up and I realized striking out wasn't that great, so I started trying to get ground balls. I got a few double plays to help me out."

What pitches were you striking them out with?
"I used the breaking balls and fastballs, really anything."

Was this a big game for you after coming off the Florida game?
"At Florida, the stats weren't that good, but I was still pleased with it. I threw good. I got my control back that game. Tonight, it was a little rocky again. I guess you could say I was effectively wild. They didn't get very good swings."

Because LSU swings the ball so well, did you try to come out with a little extra?
"No, I really don't look at what team I'm playing. I go in there with the same gameplan. I go after each hitter as he comes up to bat. If you start thinking about who you are facing, you might pitch to your weaknesses and their strengths. I just go out there and throw my game."

Is this the time of the year when you guys start watching the standings a little closer than normal?
"Yeah, I think you watch them all year, but now is a critical point because now we are two games back of the lead. We know it is kind of in our hands because we have two series at home and you are suppose to win your home series."

Most of your strikeouts came in the middle of the order.
"You kind of know where you are in the order. You know which guys have gotten hits off of you and off of what pitches. The umpire was giving a little off of the plate with lefties and I took advantage of it."

Because your team was leaving a lot of runners on base, did you ever start pressing?
"No, my gameplan going out there was to throw a shutout. If they get one run, I try to keep to them there. I don't press at all. I have faith in the offense and I knew that we were going to put a couple (of runs) up. You have to be patient because it's not going to happen everytime. The hitters have to understand if they don't get it done one time, they get another chance to come through. Corley was a good example of that as well as a few others."

MATTHEW BRINSON:

You guys were running out of opportunities when you came up in the seventh. You went after his first pitch.
"His first pitch was a curveball and I was sitting dead-ready fastball. It was a pretty good pitch. I just got the head of the bat out there and kind of flick it down the line."

Talk about the home run.
"It as a 3-1 fastball that was down and in. The speed of the pitch got me that distance. He threw it and I kind of poked at it and it jumped out of here."

You came through in the seventh but you got the leadoff man on seven innings.
"We have to take advantage of that. This is a team that thrives on getting the leadoff man on and moving him to second and getting him in with a base hit. We only took advantage of it two innings. We have to do better than that tomorrow or LSU will beat us."

You pumped your fist after the last out. You were showing some fire out there tonight.
"I was. This is a huge series for us. Tonight, in my opinion, was a must win. And so it tomorrow and the next day. But we have to take care of tomorrow first. LSU is a great ball club. There is a reason why they are 15-6 in the SEC. They have beaten a lot of good teams."

JONATHAN PAPELBON:

Talk about what you were thinking coming into the game.
"They told me that Paul was going to go back out. If he got into any kind of trouble, I was going to come in. Immediately, I knew, when he got a guy on, I was going to get called upon. I said to myself to go out there and get the first guy out and set the tone. And that was what I tried to do. I felt like I was throwing pretty hard tonight and I could get ahead with the fastball and spot it. I tried to create misses. Sometimes, I try to get ground balls, but tonight, I was trying to create misses."

What kind of team is LSU at the plate? Are they discipline, free-swinging, or what?
"They aren't like the old LSU teams where they came up and swing out of their shoes. That's what you know LSU for, hitting a lot of home runs. I think they are a lot more discipline than they have been in a while. They don't chase a lot of pitches. They know their zone well. I don't know what he has done, but they are more ground ball, line drive type hitters, not home run hitters."

RON POLK:

Talk about Brinson's double in the seventh.
"It was huge. We had some key hits in the seventh inning. That reminds me of what we did at Florida on Saturday during the second game. You've heard me say it before, hitting is contagious.

"I thought that LSU's two freshmen pitchers were pretty good and competed well tonight. Although, we did a good job of bat discipline on Meier who walked five. And he has been a pretty good strike-thrower for LSU.

"We had some opportunities early; had some walks and didn't get the guy over. We left nine guys on base but LSU did to. It just seemed like we left more. We didn't do a good job of bunting, which we have been doing a pretty good job of. And I had my best bunters up there."

Maholm stuck out more than normal.
"He got eight of them on three hitters. It wasn't like he was dominating Patterson, Hill; their good hitters. He also walked two in that one inning, both two-out walks. That is death for bad pitchers, but Paul seems to thrive on that."

Were you thinking about pulling him earlier?
"No, he is our ace. The pitch count was high, although it wasn't really high. Papelbon wasn't gassed out, but he pitched a lot last weekend and pitched on Wednesday. We just didn't want to go too early because you have two more games to play. You have maybe the best pitcher in the conference out there and if you can just get another out or two and save your reliever, then Saturday and Sunday becomes a little bit easier. But if you pull your number one pitcher because he might be a little tired, then you burn your reliever for the rest of the weekend."

About playing at Florida last weekend.
"Smoke Laval said the same thing about Florida. I said, 'Smoke, I'm having a tough time winning at Florida.' He looks at me and said, 'join the crowd.' He said they won two out of three last year and he felt it was the first time LSU had won down there in a long time. It is just about an impossible place to win. Pitchers have a tough time there. Why? I don't understand why, but it happens."


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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