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Maddux flirts with no-no, gives Dodgers big lift

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Greg Maddux wasn't certain he would have kept
pitching even if his no-hitter hadn't just been broken up.

Maddux held San Diego hitless through the first 6 1-3 innings
Friday night in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 3-1 victory over the
Padres that increased their NL West lead to 1½ games.

The 40-year-old Maddux (13-13) finished the seventh inning,
figured he had had enough and came out of the game.

Would he have continued if Brian Giles hadn't gotten that
single?

"Probably, maybe, I don't know," Maddux said with a smile.
"My arm was OK. I was mentally tired."

J.D. Drew had an RBI double off David Wells in the fourth
inning, and Julio Lugo singled home Drew to stake Maddux to a 2-0
lead in the opener of a crucial four-game series against the
second-place Padres -- their last meetings of the season.

"They're all big now," Maddux said.

He pitched seven shutout innings, gave up just the one hit,
walked three and struck out one in earning his 331st victory.

"Nothing this guy does surprises me," Los Angeles manager
Grady Little said. "There's a reason he's done what he's done in
his career.

"A lot of us, and a lot of people in the stands would have
loved to have seen him take a one-hitter into the ninth. But we
have to look at the big picture."

The "big picture" is keeping the 40-year-old Maddux at his
best down the stretch. He threw just 68 pitches as he ran his
record to 4-2, with a 3.07 ERA in nine starts since the Dodgers
acquired him from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. He's 2-0 with a 1.25
ERA at Dodger Stadium.

"It was vintage Maddux tonight," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy
said.

Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 21
chances.

The win was the Dodgers' fourth in 15 games against the Padres
this year, and their first in six contests at Dodger Stadium.

With the loss, San Diego's NL wild-card lead was cut to 1½ games
over Philadelphia, which beat Houston 4-3.

The Padres' only run came in the eighth on a throwing error by
second baseman Lugo, who was trying to complete a double play
against Josh Barfield.

The 43-year-old Wells (0-1) gave up two runs and six hits in
five innings.

He said he could appreciate Maddux's performance despite being
on the losing end.

"I really do. I think any pitcher would. It's awesome," the
Padres' left-hander said. "You'd like to match zeros with him in
those type of games, but somebody's not going to win.

"It would have been great if we both got no-decisions. But in a
game like that, you just try your darnedest to match him, and if
you don't, you tip your cap because the guy pitched a heck of a
game for them."

Bochy appreciated Wells' effort, saying he was hampered by a
sore ankle.

"He's pitched with some pain and it was bothering him,
especially when he was throwing breaking balls," Bochy said. "He
kept us in the game, but we couldn't do anything with Maddux."

Los Angeles added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by
pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz off Alan Embree.

The Maddux-Wells matchup was their first in the regular season.
In the 1995 NLCS, Maddux earned the win for Atlanta by holding
Cincinnati to one run over eight innings in a 5-2 victory, with
Wells taking the loss after giving up three runs in six innings.

Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner, came to Los Angeles
in a deal that sent shortstop Cesar Izturis to Chicago.

The Padres acquired Wells from Boston on Aug. 31 for minor
league catcher George Kottaras.

Los Angeles first baseman Nomar Garciaparra left the game after
he strained his left quad running to first base in the sixth
inning.

"He's day-to-day and he doesn't think it's serious, but we'll
know more tomorrow," Little said

Padres reliever Doug Brocail, who was charged with the Dodgers'
third run, left the game with a strained right hamstring after
running to cover first in the seventh. Bochy said he will miss some
playing time.

Game notes
The game was the first in a 10-game homestand for the
Dodgers. ... The Padres sent minor league RHP Dale Thayer to Tampa
Bay to complete the Aug. 24 trade for INF/OF Russell Branyan. ...
Little was San Diego's bullpen coach when the Padres won the NL
West in 1996.