The Houston Astros, on the other hand, could use a one-way
ticket out of town for a few days.
Maddux earned his 295th win Wednesday night, pitching the Cubs
past the slumping Astros 4-1 for their fifth straight victory on
this seven-game road trip.
"Obviously, the breaks are going for us," Chicago catcher Paul
Bako said. "We're getting great pitching and timely hitting just
like we thought we would in spring training."
Todd Hollandsworth's RBI triple sparked a two-run eighth for the
Cubs. Maddux (6-5) befuddled the Astros, allowing only one run and
eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Astros have lost three in a row to Chicago and five of their
last six, a tailspin that has left them in fifth place in the NL
Central. A crowd of 36,225 booed the Astros throughout the night,
an unusual occurrence from Houston's normally placid fans.
"Obviously, times are tough now," said Houston first baseman
Jeff Bagwell, who went 3-for-4. "Everyone starts feeling sorry for
themselves. But if you're a team that believes in yourself, you go
out and fix it. I still believe we're as good as anybody around."
Bako doubled in speedy Corey Patterson for the tying run in the
seventh and Walker drove in Bako with a sacrifice fly, giving the
Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Aramis Ramirez, who hit a tying single in Chicago's ninth-inning
rally Tuesday night, led off the eighth with a single.
Hollandsworth followed with a shot to deep center, which Craig
Biggio let slip out of his glove as he crashed into the wall trying
to avoid the man-made hill in center.
While Biggio scrambled to get up and make the play, Ramirez
raced home and Hollandsworth made it to third.
Derrek Lee's sacrifice fly scored Hollandsworth.
"This was a great game by Maddux," Cubs manager Dusty Baker
said. "We were behind 1-0 a long time tonight, but (Maddux) just
kept pitching and we just kept plugging and plugging until we got a
couple of runs."
Maddux got off to a rocky start in the first, giving up three
hits, including an RBI single to Lance Berkman that put the Astros
on top 1-0.
But the four-time Cy Young Award winner found his groove, and he
didn't allow an Astro past first base the rest of the night.
"When the pitchers on this team keep us in the game," Maddux
said, "we're going to win a lot of close games. Our hitters are
going to hit."
Tim Redding (3-6), who's struggled all season in the fifth
starter's spot for Houston, had one of his best outings despite
taking the loss.
He gave up two runs -- when he clearly tired in the seventh -- and
eight hits in seven innings. He retired 11 of 12 batters during one
Moises Alou feigned being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded
in the fifth, and plate umpire Darren Spagnardi waved in Maddux for
the tying run, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd.
Houston manager Jimy Williams immediately stormed out of the
dugout in protest and the umpires congregated before reversing the
call -- replays showed that Redding's pitch actually hit Alou's bat.
Redding forced Alou to pop up to right fielder Jason Lane for
the final out of the inning, earning a standing ovation as he
walked off the mound.
However, those cheers turned to boos as the Cubs started to
smack Redding's pitches around the field in the seventh.
"I was fortunate it wasn't worse than it was, especially after
that fifth inning," Redding said. "I didn't feel I was all there
Neither was Houston's offense.
The Astros, the NL's top-hitting team, had eight hits but left
eight on base a night after stranding 12.
The Astros haven't scored more than five runs in 15 games, nine
of them losses.
"This team stood behind me when I was struggling to go three
innings," Redding said, "so I'm certainly going to stand behind
them. This team is just going to take off. It's still one of the
best in the major leagues."
Patterson ended the Astros' final scoring threat in the
eighth with a spectacular, over-the-shoulder, leaping catch in
center. ... Bagwell returned to the lineup after sitting out
Tuesday night following a cortisone shot on his chronically achy