Greg Maddux is starting to pitch like a four-time National League Cy Young Award winner.
Maddux opened the season by losing his first three outings, compiling an ugly 11.04 ERA for the worst start of his brilliant career. However, the 37-year-old right-hander has rebounded quickly, and again looks like the pitcher that captured a record-tying four straight Cy Youngs from 1992-95.
He is 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA in his last four starts.
Maddux outdueled Houston’s Roy Oswalt in a 3-1 win over the Astros on Tuesday, surrendering only one earned runs and five hits over seven innings.
“The first couple of games, it seemed like they whacked it pretty good,” said Maddux, who has won at least 15 games in each of the previous 15 seasons.
“Since then I’ve been catching some breaks.”
Maddux has yet to catch a break in Arizona, going 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in four starts at the BOB. In eight career starts against the Diamondbacks, he is just 1-5 with a 4.97 ERA.
Despite having their six-game winning streak snapped and losing for the first time in nine road games with Saturday’s 7-6 setback, the Braves have a chance to win their sixth straight series.
Andruw Jones went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for the Braves. He has homered twice and driven in eight runs in his last five games.
The Diamondbacks halted their two-game skid Saturday, winning for the fifth time in eight games.
Junior Spivey had a pinch-hit two-run homer, and is batting .423 (11-for-26) with seven RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Diamondbacks - 4th place, 8 GB, NL West.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Maddux (3-3, 5.13 ERA). After allowing at least one homer in each of his first four starts, Maddux has averted the long ball in his last three outings.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Elmer Dessens (3-2, 4.04 ERA). Dessens won his second straight start Monday, limiting Florida to an earned run and five hits over seven innings in a 7-1 victory. Arizona is 4-0 this season when Dessens allows three earned runs or fewer. The right-hander, acquired in a four-team trade from Cincinnati on Dec. 15, 2002, is 1-3 with a 4.58 ERA in seven career appearances, including five starts, against the Diamondbacks.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - Atlanta has the second-best batting average (.283) in the NL, behind only St. Louis (.298). … C Javy Lopez is batting .438 (7-for-16) with two homers and three RBIs in his career against RHP Dessens. … RF Sheffield, who missed the last two games while on bereavement leave, will rejoin the team Monday. … SS Rafael Furcal is batting .450 (18-for-40) during his nine-game hitting streak with three doubles, a homer and three RBIs. Diamondbacks - Despite batting just .274 (23-of-84) and striking out 10 times against RHP Maddux, LF Gonzalez has six homers and 14 RBIs against him. … In five games since coming off the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, C Rod Barajas is batting .579 (11-for-19) with six doubles, a homer and seven RBIs. … Rookie 1B Lyle Overbay has managed just three hits in the his last 27 at-bats.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 9-5 on the road; Diamondbacks - 7-9 at home.