It took Greg Maddux nearly three months to register six wins this season. Now he can double that victory total in barely more than one month.
Since going 6-8 with a 4.84 ERA through June, Maddux is 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his last seven starts while walking just four in 46 innings. He’s won five of his last six outings and hasn’t lost since June 30, when the Florida Marlins beat him.
The 37-year-old right-hander hasn’t given up a run in two straight starts, spanning 11 innings. He threw just 88 pitches to get through six innings in Wednesday’s 10-2 win at Milwaukee.
“Maddux was really terrific tonight, again,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He was just outstanding. He had great zip and great location. He was just in charge all night long.”
Maddux hopes to benefit from the kind of solid defensive play shortstop Rafael Furcal displayed in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to St. Louis. The shortstop turned the first unassisted triple play in team history, and first in the majors in more than three years.
The Braves would like their offense to wake up after totaling just three runs in losing the final two games of their three-game set against the Cardinals. Atlanta had won six of its previous eight.
Gary Sheffield can’t be blamed for the team’s lack of offense over the weekend. He went 3-for-3 Sunday, including a home run, to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Sheffield is 24-for-56 (.429) during the streak with five homers and 15 RBIs.
San Diego beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 on Sunday, and took two of three in the series.
Mark Kotsay went 2-for-4 Sunday for his fourth straight multihit game, going 10-for-18 (.556) in that span. Kotsay, who struggled with a back injury for most of the season, is hitting .354 (23-for-65) over his last 17 games.
“I’ve found somewhat of a consistent approach and swing,” Kotsay said. “I’m not going to say I’m locked in at any point. If I can continue this for the rest of the season then I’ll feel comfortable going into next year.”
The Padres, owners of the NL’s worst record, have totaled just 13 runs in their last six games.
STANDINGS: Padres - 5th place, 28 GB, NL West. Braves - 1st place, NL East.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Adam Eaton (6-8, 4.14 ERA). Eaton pitched well in his last start, but received his first loss since June 27. The right-hander, who had been 4-0 in his previous six starts, gave up three runs and six hits while striking out eight over seven innings in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Eaton has allowed three runs or fewer in 10 of his last 12 starts. He has a 3.75 ERA and no record in two games against Atlanta.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Maddux (11-8, 4.24 ERA). The right-hander is 21-13 with a 2.87 ERA in 38 starts against San Diego. Maddux has not faced the Padres this year.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Padres - Mark Loretta, .325 avg. and 54 runs; Ryan Klesko, 20 HRs and 60 RBIs; Ramon Vazquez, 9 SBs. Braves - Sheffield, .334 avg. and 91 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 31 HRs; Sheffield and Furcal, 95 runs; Furcal, 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Braves, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Padres - OF Kotsay is batting .361 (13-for-36) against RHP Maddux. … OF Rondell White is batting .466 (7-for-15) in his last five games. … 2B Loretta has a nine-game hitting streak. Braves - OF Chipper Jones is batting .105 (2-for-19) in his last five games. … Atlanta leads the NL in batting average at .284. … RHP John Smoltz has yielded just two home runs in 57 2-3 innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Padres - 22-37 on the road; Braves - 40-17 at home.
INJURIES: Padres - INF Keith Lockhart (back), 15-day DL; OF Jason Bay (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL. Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Trey Hodges (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL.