Chicago (85-66) at Pittsburgh (68-83)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Thu Sep 23, 2004
  • TV: WGN, ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Greg Maddux has been the model of consistency for 17 years. The Chicago Cubs just need him to be that way for a few more starts.

Maddux will try for his 17th straight 15-win season and help the Cubs’ playoff chances when they play the finale of their three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Having already earned his 300th win this season, Maddux can extend his record streak of consecutive 15-win seasons with yet another solid second-half performance. The four-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 7-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break.

That’s good news for the Cubs, who enter play Thursday just a half-game behind San Francisco and 2 1/2 ahead of Houston in the NL wild-card race. The Giants maintained their slim lead with a 5-1 win over the Astros on Wednesday.

Maddux tried for his 15th win Saturday, but was turned away by Cincinnati, 6-5. The 38-year-old right-hander allowed six runs and nine hits over six innings.

“I felt fine. I just got hit,” Maddux said. “I left some changeups up. I wish I knew why, but I don’t. I threw some changeups that didn’t sink, and they didn’t miss them.”

The Cubs have won nine of 11 and are 13-6 in September.

The Pirates have lost five straight to the Cubs, including the first two of this series. On Wednesday, Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano baffled Pittsburgh over 7 1-3 innings in a 1-0 win.

Veteran right-hander Nelson Figueroa will start for the Pirates on Thursday, taking the place of rookie right-hander John Van Benschoten, who is done for the season due to shoulder stiffness.

Figueroa, a 30-year-old right-hander, has done a little bit of everything since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 21, making eight appearances, including two starts.

In his last outing, Figueroa allowed a run and three hits over 4 2-3 innings of relief in Pittsburgh’s 8-7 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Maddux LAD vs. N. Figueroa Ari
16-11 Record 0-3
4.02 ERA 5.72
151 K 10
33 BB 11
1.18 WHIP 1.52