Maddux Back On Track for Braves
Greg Maddux didn’t change his windup, his delivery, or his tactics. All he needed was a new target.
Maddux, pitching to backup catcher Eddie Perez for the first time this season after working exclusively with Javy Lopez, picked up his first win in a month as the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Diego Padres 9-3.
Maddux (6-5) had two losses and three no decisions since his last victory on May 17. But the four-time Cy Young Award winner had little trouble with the slumping Padres, walking none and striking out eight.
``I felt good,″ Maddux said. ``I’m pleased with the way I threw. I located down well, but in and out could have been better.″
Last season, Maddux pitched only to Charlie O’Brien, who is now with Toronto. This year, with Lopez behind the plate, Maddux has struggled. Although Maddux hasn’t publicly knocked Lopez, he did give the catcher several long looks during his start last week in New York.
So, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox sat Lopez and gave Perez his 15th start this season.
``He did a good job tonight,″ Maddux said. ``He really did, for never catching me before. I noticed a huge improvement the last three innings.″
Perez said the secret to catching baseball’s best pitcher is actually quite simple.
``Greg threw good,″ Perez said. ``He’s easy to catch _ stick out the mitt and the ball’s there.″
The Padres, who entered Monday tied for the NL West lead with Los Angeles, lost for the 13th time in 15 games.
``That was bad,″ Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We keep thinking it’s going to get better, but we played as ugly a ballgame as you can play.″
Ryan Klesko doubled and hit his 22nd homer for the Braves, who won for just the fourth time in 11 games.
Chipper Jones hit a two-run double to highlight a four-run third inning off Sean Bergman (3-7) that gave Maddux a 5-0 lead.
Elsewhere in the National League, it was New York 7, Pittsburgh 6 in 10 innings; San Francisco 1, Florida 0; Montreal 5, Colorado 3; Houston 5, Cincinnati 4; and Los Angeles at Chicago was postponed by rain.
Mets 7, Pirates 6, 10 innings
At Pittsburgh, Lance Johnson homered among his three hits, stole two bases and scored the winning run after New York had blown a six-run lead.
Jeff Kent also homered as the Mets opened a 6-0 lead in the second inning before offsetting a Pirates comeback, keyed by Mark Johnson’s two-run pinch-hit homer and Charlie Hayes’ two-run triple in a five-run seventh.
Pittsburgh’s bullpen had pitched seven scoreless innings before Johnson, who went 3-for-5, singled with two outs in the 10th and stole second. The single came off Pirates reliever Francisco Cordova (2-4), who struck out four of the first five hitters he faced.
Dave Mlicki (2-3) pitched a scoreless ninth and John Franco finished up for his 14th save.
Giants 1, Marlins 0
At San Francisco, Osvaldo Fernandez gave up two hits in 7 2-3 innings and Barry Bonds hit his 19th home run.
Fernandez (4-6), who was 0-5 in his last eight starts, got his first win since April 21. Rod Beck got the final four outs for his 16th save, despite allowing a one-out double to Jeff Conine in the ninth.
Losing pitcher Al Leiter (8-6) gave up just three hits in seven innings.
Expos 5, Rockies 3
At Denver, Shane Andrews homered twice and Ugueth Urbina won his fourth straight decision as Montreal ended Colorado’s six-game winning streak.
Andrews went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs for the Expos, who have won five of their last six. He hit his ninth and 10th homers of the season and had his third three-hit game in his last five games.
Urbina (4-0) gave up five hits over 6 1-3 innings. Mel Rojas pitched the final 1 2-3 innings for his 10th save.
Marvin Freeman (4-4) lost for the first time since May 9, allowing seven hits and five runs in seven innings.
Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette homered for the Rockies.
Astros 5, Reds 4
At Houston, Jeff Bagwell, the NL’s RBI leader, hit a two-run double in the seventh inning for Houston.
Bagwell, who has 67 RBIs, doubled to center off Reds reliever Jeff Shaw (2-3) with none out in the seventh to make it 5-4.
Rick Wilkins homered and had three hits for the Astros.
Reliever Anthony Young (3-3) pitched two innings for the win. Todd Jones finished for his 14th save, striking out Barry Larkin with the tying run at first.
Reggie Sanders’ two-run single in the fifth gave the Reds a 4-2 lead.
At Chicago, the Dodgers jumped to a 5-0 lead before the game was postponed after 1 1-3 innings.
The game was to be made up today as part of a doubleheader.