Atlanta (58-31) at Chicago (46-44)

  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Thu Jul 10, 2003
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Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone doesn’t think there is anything wrong with Greg Maddux.

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.

The Cubs have won three of their last five. On Wednesday, they beat the Florida Marlins 5-1 to clinch their first series win since taking two of three against the Baltimore Orioles from June 10-12.

Kerry Wood pitched a three-hitter, striking out 12, and Sammy Sosa hit a two-run homer, leading Chicago to the win.

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.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL. Cubs - OF Patterson (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Maddux LAD vs. S. Estes WAS
16-11 Record 8-11
3.96 ERA 5.73
124 K 103
33 BB 83
1.18 WHIP 1.74