Though Maddux is enduring one of the most difficult seasons of his distinguished career, Mazzone said the 37-year-old right-hander is pitching the same way he always has.
“Just a matter of inches one way, in, out, up or down,” Mazzone said. “Very minute with him. That’s the same Greg Maddux, old or new. He’s doing fine. He’s got a lot of innings to pitch the rest of the way.”
Maddux will try to help the Braves extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games when they meet the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game at Wrigley Field.
Over his last three starts, Maddux is 0-2 with a 7.31 ERA. On Saturday, he gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings, but didn’t get a decision in the Braves’ 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.
On Wednesday, the Braves completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with a 6-3 win. Julio Franco went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer, and Russ Ortiz pitched 7 1-3 innings to become the National League’s first 12-game winner.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Cubs - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, NL Central.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Maddux (6-8, 4.71 ERA). In 18 career games against the Cubs, Maddux is 9-3 with a 2.34 ERA.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Shawn Estes (6-7, 5.51 ERA). Estes is winless in his last five starts, going 0-2 with a 6.58 ERA. On Saturday, he gave up five runs and nine hits over six innings in the Cubs’ 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The 30-year-old left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in nine career games against the Braves.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .335 avg., 70 RBIs and 71 runs; Javy Lopez, 23 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 14 SBs. Cubs - Mark Grudzielanek, .299 avg.; Sosa, 15 HRs; Moises Alou, 56 RBIs; Sosa and Corey Patterson, 49 runs; Tom Goodwin, 17 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Braves, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - RF Sheffield is batting .366 (15-for-41) in his career against LHP Estes. … The Braves are a league-best 19-5 in day games this season. … Over the past eight games, Atlanta relievers have allowed two earned runs in 18 1-3 innings. Cubs - 2B Grudzielanek is batting .350 (14-for-40) in his career against RHP Maddux. … Since CF Patterson is out for the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee, the Cubs have begun working out OF David Kelton in center field at Triple-A Iowa. He had been playing left field. … The Cubs are 20-20 in games decided by one or two runs, but they have lost nine of their last 12.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 28-18 on the road; Cubs - 23-22 at home.