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Maddux gets first win in eight starts; Cubs nip Mets

NEW YORK (AP) -- Greg Maddux struggled all night. Still, he ended
his six-game losing streak, and that was good enough for him.

Maddux won for the first time in more than six weeks, and Aramis Ramirez and Jacque Jones hit consecutive homers to help the Chicago
Cubs beat the New York Mets 8-7 Monday night.

Mets ace Pedro Martinez, who has been on the disabled list since July 6 with an inflamed right hip, is expected to return to the starting rotation Friday in Atlanta.

Manager Willie Randolph said the team will use a six-man rotation for at least the next week with the July 31 trade deadline looming. If the Mets do not trade away any of their six starters before Monday's deadline, Randolph will choose two pitchers from among Mike Pelfry, John Maine and Orlando Hernandez to stay in the rotation, The New York Times reported. The Mets' other three starters are Martinez, Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel.

-- ESPN.com news services

Maddux (8-11) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings
but still managed to tie Eddie Plank for 12th on the career wins
list with 326. The right-hander won for the first time in eight
starts since beating Cincinnati on June 9.

"Hey, you feel good you won and you feel [bad] you gave up
seven runs," said Maddux, who briefly consulted with a trainer
about a blister on his right foot but insisted he was fine
afterward.

"You'd rather win than pitch good and lose," he said.
"They've got a good lineup. There's nothing wrong with me. They
hit me, we just hit them a little better."

Maddux's 35th career victory against the Mets, his most against
any opponent and the most for any pitcher against New York, came
against Steve Trachsel, who had won a career-best seven straight
decisions.

The Mets scored three runs in the seventh to pull within one.
They had runners on first and second when Cubs shortstop Ronny Cedeno knocked down Cliff Floyd's grounder and threw him out to end
the inning.

The Cubs used three relievers to get through the seventh. Bob Howry retired Floyd after allowing David Wright's broken-bat RBI
single.

"The bullpen was very good," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker,
whose team was swept by the Nationals before coming to Shea
Stadium. "They were spent after this past weekend. I'm really
proud of the way they came in and got the outs."

Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 22
chances. Michael Barrett also homered and Phil Nevin hit a two-run
double for the Cubs.

Nevin was subbing for first baseman Derrek Lee, who went back on
the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right wrist.

The Cubs trailed 4-3 before Ramirez hit a 1-1 pitch from
Trachsel (9-5) into the second deck in left for a two-run homer in
the fifth. Ramirez's 22nd homer traveled an estimated 425 feet and
came after Barrett's leadoff single.

"That was a huge inning for us," Barrett said. "We needed
that."

Jones followed with a drive to center for his 16th homer. It was
the second time in five days that the Cubs hit homers in
consecutive at-bats. Barrett and Ramirez went deep against the
Astros on Thursday, the first time Chicago hit back-to-back homers
all season.

"I was in the strike zone but I was wild in the strike zone,"
Trachsel said. "A couple of times I had to execute pitches, I
didn't do it."

Juan Pierre added a two-run single off Heath Bell to make it
8-4. Trachsel allowed a season-high eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3
innings, losing for the first time since a 1-0 defeat May 17 at St.
Louis.

"His command was off and when you have to throw it over the
plate it can be trouble. A couple of big home runs," Mets manager
Willie Randolph said. "He kept getting behind and you can't do
that."

Carlos Delgado drove in two runs for the Mets. Carlos Beltran's
sacrifice fly in the seventh gave him 80 RBI, a club record for
center fielders.

Game notes
Maddux is 35-18 in 64 starts against the Mets. He is 14-11
in 30 starts at Shea Stadium. ... INF Ryan Theriot was recalled
from Triple-A Iowa to take Lee's roster spot. Lee, a two-time Gold
Glove winner and the 2005 NL batting champion, broke two bones in
his wrist in April. He was activated from the DL on June 25 but has
experienced some pain and weakness in the wrist since his return.
... Mets RHP Pedro Martinez (sore hip) is expected to return to the
rotation Friday in Atlanta, and Randolph said the team will go to a
six-man rotation for now. ... Baker said RHP Carlos Marmol should
be OK for his next start. Marmol bruised his right hand while
hitting in the third inning of Sunday's 7-1 loss to Washington. ...
The attendance of 45,631 pushed the Mets over the 2 million mark
for the season.