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Pitcher hits tying HR off Maddux

5/8/2004

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jason Jennings is no slouch with the bat. And now
he has one of the biggest hits of his career.

Colorado's young pitcher lined a game-tying two-run homer off
Greg Maddux in the Rockies' 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on
Saturday.

"He left it out over the plate and I was able to take advantage
of it," said Jennings, who entered this season with a career
average of .267.

A standout hitter and pitcher at Baylor, Jennings knows any
offense he adds can be a plus, as it was Saturday when he ended a
personal three-game losing streak from the mound

"I always work on my hitting," he said. "I just need to get
up there and see it and swing hard. That's what I did all through
high school and college coming up, so why change? See it and hit
it."

Maddux (2-3) had retired 12 straight and was coasting with a 3-1
lead in the fifth before he gave up a two-out single to Brad Hawpe.
Jennings followed by driving an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right
for his second career homer. He was 1-for-12 this season before the
homer.

"He can hit, I knew that two years ago when he started. I mean
that wasn't a surprise," Maddux said.

"Trust me. I knew that for a while. It's not a secret. ...
There are a couple of pitchers out there that can flat-out rake and
you know about them."

After Jennings' two-out homer tied it in the fifth, the Rockies
took the lead an inning later when Royce Clayton beat out a bunt,
stole second and scored on a two-out single by Jeromy Burnitz.

Maddux, who allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings,
still needs nine wins to reach 300 for his career. He's given up 10
homers so far this season.

"With the exception of the first game here I pitched, I'm kinda
happy with how I've thrown the ball," Maddux said.

"The results stink, but I feel OK with how I'm throwing it."

Jennings, the 2002 NL Rookie of the Year, gave up back-to-back
homers to Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou in the first inning, and
another solo shot to Todd Walker in the third.

But Jennings (2-4) settled down and yielded just five hits in
six innings. He came out to warm up in the seventh before he was
replaced by Brian Fuentes. Shawn Chacon pitched the ninth and held
on for his eighth save in nine chances.

"He didn't let the home runs affect him," Colorado manager
Cliff Hurdle said of Jennings. "He pitched through some traffic
early on."

Hurdle, like Maddux, is not surprised by Jennings' prowess with
the bat. Jennings batted .382 with 17 homers in his final year of
college when he was the Golden Spikes winner as the national player
of the year in 1999.

"We talked about it a couple of weeks ago, how much we can have
an edge with him the lineup," Hurdle added. "He took care of the
game from a pitching standpoint and gave us a chance to win and
then he hits the homer."

The Cubs threatened in the ninth. Todd Hollandsworth walked to
lead off, but was erased when pinch-hitter Tom Goodwin grounded
into a fielder's choice. On a pickoff attempt, Goodwin went all the
way to third base on Chacon's throwing error. But Chacon struck out
Walker and Corey Patterson to end it.

The Rockies reached Maddux for a run in the first and would have
had more but 6-foot-5 Derrek Lee went high to snap leadoff hitter
Aaron Miles' liner that appeared headed for the right-field corner.

Clayton followed with a double and scored one out later on Vinny
Castilla's RBI single to center.
^Notes:@ Sosa also struck out three times, giving him 2,002 for his
career and moving him into second place all-time behind Reggie
Jackson (2,597). Andres Galarraga fanned 2,000 times. ... Jennings
also homered in his major league debut on Aug. 23, 2001. On that
day, he became the first player in major league history to throw a
complete-game shutout and hit a homer in his big league debut. ...
Sosa's homer was the 547th of his career, putting him one behind
Mike Schmidt for ninth on the all-time list. ... It marked the
fifth time in Jennings' career he'd surrendered three homers in a
game. He's given up 11 this season. ... The Cubs have hit
back-to-back homers five times this season.