ATLANTA (AP) -- Greg Maddux did something that hadn't been
accomplished in nearly 100 years. It took John Smoltz only one
season to do his thing.
Maddux joined Cy Young as the only pitchers to win 15 or more
games in 15 consecutive seasons and Smoltz tied the NL record for
saves in a season Sunday as the Atlanta Braves beat the Florida
John Smoltz now shares the NL record with Randy Myers (Cubs in 1993) and San Diego's Trevor Hoffman (1998).
"I never really thought about it,'' Maddux said of the record.
"It feels good to be healthy enough to get it. It helps to be on a
good team and having a closer like Smoltzie helps, too.'' "It's cool to do it, but at the same time I'd rather be
compared to the guys I'm playing against. The game has obviously
changed from the early 1900s and the 1990s,'' said the four-time NL
Cy Young winner. Maddux (15-6) allowed four hits and one run in seven innings to
match the record set by Young from 1891-1905. Maddux earned his 272nd career victory, moving the four-time NL
Cy Young winner within one win of Red Ruffing and 28th on the
all-time list. Smoltz pitched a perfect ninth for his 53rd save in 57 chances,
tying the record shared by Randy Myers of the Chicago Cubs in 1993
and San Diego's Trevor Hoffman in 1998. "To do something like that in my first year is pretty neat,''
said Smoltz, a starter his entire career, including winning a NL Cy
Young in 1996, until his conversion to a closer late last season. "There's no way I'd think this was possible,'' he said. With seven games left, it's likely Smoltz will get another save
for the NL record. The major league mark of 57 was set by Bobby
Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990. "Whatever comes in the next week, I'll take in stride,'' said
Smoltz. "It's been a special year.'' The only run off Maddux was a solo home run by Juan Encarnacion
in the fourth, his 22nd of the season. Maddux struck out six and walked one. He threw only 76 pitches,
61 strikes and 15 balls in lowering his ERA to 2.64. The Braves scored all four runs in the sixth off reliever Julian
Tavarez (10-12). Third baseman Mike Lowell and Tavarez made errors
to help Atlanta. Chipper Jones hit a tying single and Keith Lockhart knocked in
two more runs with a run-scoring single for a 3-1 lead. Another run
scored when Tavarez made a throwing error. Tavarez, who gave up three hits and got only one out in the
inning, was ejected by plate umpire Gary Darling after he hit Henry
Blanco with his first pitch to the Atlanta catcher. Florida manager Jeff Torborg didn't agree with Darling. "Why would he (Tavarez) do that? He was trying to pitch the guy
inside with the pitcher on deck. He (Darling) said he thought
Tavarez tried to hit him,'' said Torborg. "There was no reason for him to throw me out of the game,''
said Tavarez. "They make the call, and there's nothing you can do
about it.'' Maddux has won four of his last five starts, his only loss
coming Sept. 13 against the Marlins when he had one of the worst
outings of his career. He gave up seven runs in two innings,
including six in the first inning in a 13-3 loss at Florida. Marlins starter A.J. Burnett went five innings, his first start
since Aug. 18 and longest outing since coming back from the 15-day
disabled list on Sept. 14. He gave up two hits, no runs, walked two
and struck out four. "It felt good,' said Burnett, who threw 77 pitches. "I was a
little surprised I could go that far.''
Encarnacion, running on the pitch from first, tried to
score on a single to left by Lowell in the sixth and was thrown out
on a perfect throw from Jones. ... Jones needs four more RBI to
become only the fifth player in NL history to have seven
consecutive 100-RBI seasons. The others are Mel Ott, Willie Mays,
Sammy Sosa (8) and Gil Hodges (7). ... It was the final regular
season game at Turner Field this season. The NL East champion
Braves close out the season with three games at Philadelphia and
four in New York before the playoffs.