Unable to protect a four-run lead, Maholm lasted long enough to be tagged with the loss as the Atlanta Braves were beaten by the Chicago White Sox 10-6 on Saturday.
Maholm didn't record an out in the fourth inning before exiting the game. He allowed seven earned runs against the weak-hitting White Sox.
After Alejandro De Aza fouled off a pitch, Maholm walked off the mound toward catcher Evan Gattis and was shaking his throwing hand a bit. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and trainer Jeff Porter went to the mound and took Maholm out of the game because of an aggravation of a previous injury.
"He did it in Miami his last start when he was hitting. Kind of a check swing or something," Gonzalez said. "In the fourth it flared up on him a little bit and we didn't want to take any more chances. We got him out of there as soon as we saw something."
Gonzalez said he didn't think Maholm would have to go on the disabled list. X-rays taken were negative.
"I think it was more warming up in the fourth," Maholm said. "My warmup pitches going out in the fourth were extremely high. It was bothering me where I didn't think I should keep going.
"I don't think it's anything major where there's any concern. Hopefully in the next day or so it will be good to go and I'll go throw."
It was the third consecutive rough start for Maholm (9-9), who has an ERA over 10 in those losses. Maholm, who pitched 25 1/3 scoreless innings to open the season, allowed seven hits and two walks with no strikeouts Saturday.
"It's frustrating to lose three in a row when I'm out there, and to give up a four run lead," Maholm said. "It's not the first time I've gone through a bad stretch in my career and it's probably not going to be the last one. It's no fun."
The Braves homered twice to increase their National League-leading total to 118. Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman both hit two-run shots, but that wasn't nearly enough offense for Atlanta.
Alex Rios had three hits, including a grand slam, and five runs batted in, and Jake Peavy pitched six solid innings in his return from the disabled list to lead the White Sox.
Rios went 3-for-5 to snap out of a 2-for-20 slump, and responded to being benched on Friday for not running out a grounder. Rios insisted that his big day had nothing to do with the benching.
"I go about my business the same way every day," he said. "It doesn't matter what happens the night before or whatever. I try to do the same things every day and I try to perform my best.
"I felt a little better today. I felt like I was seeing the ball better. When you see the ball better, it's because you've done some mechanical adjustments. I felt a little better today."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura agreed there was no carry-over effect from the benching.
"The other day he was 6-for-6 and there was nothing going on there," Ventura said of Rios' performance at Detroit on July 9. "He's just a good player and he had a good day. He came up at the right time. He hit a grand slam and had some big hits to help us win. I don't think it had anything to do with last night."
Peavy (7-4), making his first start since June 4 because of a fracture rib. got off to a shaky start. He allowed Uggla's homer in the second and two more runs in the third. He shut down the Braves during his final three innings.
Peavy allowed seven hits in six innings, and two of the four runs he gave up were earned.
"I probably came out of the gate a little too fast because I was excited," Peavy said. "I had a little extra adrenaline, but the feel wasn't there. I was able to pull the reins back a little toward the middle and get my feel back a little bit to where I was throwing the ball more consistently to where I wanted it.
"The boys picked me up today. The team came back and Alex got a big hit. It was a fun day."