CHICAGO (AP) -- At age 40, a fitter and trimmer Greg Maddux
pitched his way into new territory.
Twice facing bases-loaded jams, Maddux escaped the big inning
Friday to win his fifth straight start as the Chicago Cubs beat the
Milwaukee Brewers 6-2. He's 5-0 for the first time in a long and
distinguished career that will some day end in Cooperstown.
"It's hard for him to have firsts anymore," Chicago manager
Dusty Baker said.
"Without his 5-0, boy we wouldn't be close to where we are. You
feel very confident that day he's out there. ... He's not gloating
or reveling over what he's done. He's just continued to do what
Actually, Maddux did more in the offseason with a conditioning
program that has put him in better shape. With Carlos Zambrano
winless this season and Kerry Wood and Mark Prior on the disabled
list again, Maddux has carried the Cubs the first three weeks.
Maddux, of course, says it's the other way around, typically
shrugging off praise.
"Good teammates you know," he said. "The year hasn't even
gotten going yet. It's nice to start good. The team has played very
well on the day I pitched."
Maddux has five of the Cubs' 13 wins and a 1.35 ERA. He earned
his 323rd victory, one win shy of tying Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton
for 13th place all-time.
He gave up eight hits and two runs in six innings and was backed
by a homer and a strong defensive play from shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
"Great mechanics and he doesn't overthrow," said Milwaukee's
Geoff Jenkins, who had a two-run single off Maddux for his team's
"He works the outer half of the plate and knows when to mix one
inside. He's pitching as good as he ever has. He's going to be a
Hall of Famer."
Maddux worked out of trouble in the opening inning after the
Brewers loaded the bases on a walk and singles by Jenkins and
Carlos Lee. Maddux struck out Prince Fielder on three pitches and
retired Corey Koskie on a fly ball.
He was sailing until the fifth and had one out before opposing
pitcher Dave Bush, 2-for-13 in his career, singled.
Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy followed with singles to load the
bases before Jenkins delivered a two-run single to cut Chicago's
lead to 3-2. Cedeno then went to the hole and started a tough 6-4-3
double play on Lee to end the rally.
Cedeno hit his first homer, a two-run drive in the fifth, after
Juan Pierre's bunt single. That gave Maddux a three-run cushion
"I felt like I was on the verge of getting knocked out of the
game," Maddux said. "And he (Cedeno) makes a good play to start
the double play and comes up and hits the home run right after it.
Ronny did great.
"You just try to throw the ball where you need to throw it and
hope you get the result you are looking for. That wasn't an easy
double play ball. It was on the ground, but Ronny had to go a long
way for it. Luckily the guy running wasn't overly fast."
Maddux is now 13-3 against the Brewers, representing his best
winning percentage against any NL team. Second best? The Cubs. He
was 11-3 against Chicago while pitching for the Braves.
"The outcome of the game is something that, as a starting
pitcher, is very hard to control," Maddux said, reiterating one of
his main philosophies. "Just worry about making pitches. And leave
it at that."
Bush, who pitched a four-hit shutout against the Reds in his
previous outing, gave up a leadoff double to Pierre in the third.
Cedeno got a bunt single and Todd Walker followed with an RBI
single for a 3-0 lead.
Bush also lasted six innings, giving up 10 hits and five runs.
Maddux is the first Cubs pitcher to go 5-0 in his first
five starts since Steve Stone in 1975. ... Murton now has seven
RBI in the last four games. His 16 RBI are two more than he had
all last season in 51 games. ... The Brewers had a three-game
winning streak snapped after having swept the Braves at Miller
Park. ... Cubs C Michael Barrett, who hasn't played since jamming
the middle finger of his left hand Tuesday night, took batting
practice Friday and said he hoped to be back in the starting lineup
Saturday. ... Both starting pitchers wore No. 31. ... Maddux was
also 4-0 with the Braves in 2000 and 1999, but he needed six and
five starts respectively to get there. ... Julia Ruth Stevens and
Tom Stevens, the daughter and grandson of Babe Ruth, led the
singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the seventh inning.