Maddux will try to help the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers to their 15th win in 16 contests, and the first three-game home sweep of the San Francisco Giants in nearly 17 years when the teams wrap up a weekend series on Sunday night.
The Dodgers (61-56) have not swept a three-game series at home against the Giants since Sept. 25-27, 1989, and may be facing them at the right time to end that streak. San Francisco (54-62) has dropped 15 of 18 after a season-high five-game winning streak, and has won just one of its last 12 on the road to fall 6 1/2 games behind first-place Los Angeles in the NL West.
The Dodgers’ improved play comes after dropping 13 of 14 following the All-Star break.
“Everybody was quiet and down before, and now everybody’s having fun,” said Brad Penny, who became the NL’s first 13-game winner after the Dodgers’ 6-5 win on Saturday. “We’re out there playing like we all thought we could play.
“You go out there every day expecting to win, and your whole attitude changes.”
Maddux (10-11, 4.43 ERA) has excelled in two starts with Los Angeles since coming over from the Chicago Cubs in a July 31 trade.
On Aug. 3, the four-time Cy Young Award winner made his Dodgers debut by pitching six no-hit innings in a 3-0 victory over Cincinnati. The 40-year-old Maddux did not return to the mound after a 46-minute rain delay, ending a bid for his first career no-hitter.
Maddux failed to get a decision in his home debut on Tuesday, a 4-2 victory over Colorado that extended Los Angeles’ winning streak to 11 games. He gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings before three relievers combined to allow one hit over the final three innings.
“It looks good,” Maddux said of his new bullpen. “They have very good control. That’s the thing—everybody out of the bullpen has good stuff.”
Maddux, who has 328 wins, needs one victory to tie Steve Carlton for 10th on the all-time list.
He is 24-14 with a 2.99 ERA in 43 starts against the Giants, but has struggled recently against them, going 1-2 with a 4.09 ERA in five starts since May 15, 2002.
Barry Bonds has only one homer in 17 games since July 21 to remain stuck on 723, but has had great success against Maddux.
The seven-time NL MVP has hit eight homers off Maddux, one of four pitchers he’s had that many against along with Curt Schilling, Terry Mulholland and John Smoltz. Bonds’ 34 hits off Maddux are the most he’s recorded against any pitcher.
San Francisco will send its ace to the mound when Jason Schmidt (9-7, 3.15) looks for his third straight win overall and first in three starts against the Dodgers this season.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 2-3 innings this month. Against Arizona on Monday, Schmidt allowed three runs, seven hits and hit three batters over 6 2-3 innings of an 8-4 win.
He also hit his sixth career home run.
“My last six (at-bats), I was wondering if I’d ever make contact with the ball again,” Schmidt said. “I was swinging and the ball would disappear every time. Every time I get a hit it’s lucky, but I’ll definitely take it.”
He’s gone 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season, but San Francisco has scored only four runs for him in those outings.
Schmidt hasn’t beaten the Dodgers since July 14, 2005, and is 11-9 with a 3.79 ERA and two complete games in 31 career appearances against them.
Los Angeles rookie left fielder Andre Ethier had two hits Saturday and is batting .371 (23-for-62) during a 16-game hitting streak. He’s had four doubles, three triples, three homers and scored 10 runs in that span.