Cubs polish off third sweep of Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Greg Maddux reached 15 wins for a record 17th
consecutive season. Getting to 200 innings made him just as happy,

"You always have your goals," Maddux said Thursday after
leading the Chicago Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3. "One of
them is always to win 20. but you always have a goal to pitch 200
innings. If you can go out there and get your 200 innings, you have
to be doing something right."

Maddux also hit a two-run single in a four-run second inning for
the Cubs, who completed their third series sweep of the Pirates
this year. Maddux raised his total to 201 2/3 innings, reaching 200
for the 16th time in 17 years -- he missed by two-thirds of an
inning in 2002.

Unless Maddux pitched a combined 400 innings or more in 2004 and
2005, the Cubs have the right to void his $9 million salary in

"I think 200 innings for me personally means more than the
wins," Maddux said, "because you can't control the wins and
losses as much as you can control showing up every fifth day and
getting your 200 innings.

Chicago, which began the day a half-game behind San Francisco in
the NL wild-card race, is 7-2 on its trip following the three
victories in Pittsburgh. Chicago has won 12 of 15.

"I think we should have been doing this all year," reliever
Kent Mercker said. "Better late than never, I guess."

The Cubs headed to New York for a three-game series against the
Mets, then finish the season at home with four games against
Cincinnati and three against Atlanta.

Maddux (15-10) improved to 3-1 against Pittsburgh this season,
allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings with no walks and
six strikeouts. Maddux, 20th on the career wins list with 304, last
year surpassed Cy Young's 15 consecutive 15-win seasons.

"It's unbelievable," Cubs manger Dusty Baker said. "He's been
great for us, and I'm glad we have him here."

Maddux retired 11 consecutive batters before Jack Wilson's
leadoff single in the sixth. Kyle Farnsworth pitched one inning,
and Mercker got the final out of the eighth after Ryan Dempster put
two runners on. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd
save in 30 chances.

Nelson Figueroa (0-3) gave up four runs and five hits in two
innings for Pittsburgh, which has lost eight of 10. Figueroa, who
has an 8.25 ERA in 12 innings over three starts, started in place
of rookie John Van Benschoten, sidelined by stiffness in his right

Chicago took a 4-0 lead in the second. Sammy Sosa walked leading
off, Nomar Garciaparra doubled, Mark Grudzielanek hit an RBI single
and Paul Bako doubled in a run before Maddux's single. Maddux,
batting .154 (10-for-65) this season, had the ninth multiple-RBI
game of his career.

"It was just a ground ball with the infield in," Maddux said.
"Sometimes you don't have to be good to have success."

Craig Wilson hit a two-run homer in the bottom half but Sosa, in
a 4-for-27 slide, made it 5-2 in the sixth with an RBI single off
Ian Snell. Ty Wigginton had an RBI single in the sixth, and
Grudzielanek doubled in an unearned run in the ninth against Brian
Meadows after Garciaparra reached on Wigginton's error at third.

Pittsburgh went 5-13 against the Cubs and 5-12 against both St.
Louis and Houston, the top teams in the NL Central.

"Those teams have three-to-five Hall of Famers," Pirates
manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We have guys trying to get three to
five years in."

Game notes
The Cubs have swept 10 series this year. ... Craig Wilson
struck out twice, raising his total to 160, three short of the
Pirates season record set by Donn Clendenon in 1968. ... McClendon
said Snell may make his first major league start Tuesday in
Philadelphia. That's the next time Van Benschoten's spot in the
rotation comes up.