Greg Maddux has been piling up wins for more than two decades, and has reached a mark only eight other pitchers in history have attained. The future Hall of Famer has been unable to add to that total for the past 10 weeks, though.
Maddux (3-8, 3.90 ERA) earned his 350th career victory against Colorado on May 10, but hasn’t been in the win column since. The 42-year-old right-hander is 0-5 with a 4.11 ERA in his last 12 starts - his longest winless stretch since a 13-start span from May 11-July 14, 1990 with the Chicago Cubs.
“I enjoy going out there and I enjoy the opportunity to pitch,” he told the Padres’ official Web site. “I’d rather be out there losing than not playing at all.”
Maddux has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight starts during his drought, but has not received much help from his offense, as he’s been backed with three runs of support or less in 11 of those outings. The Padres (37-59) have scored the second-fewest runs in the majors (353), and Maddux has received an average of 3.23 runs per game - fourth-worst in baseball.
On Saturday, the four-time Cy Young Award winner allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Atlanta.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” San Diego manager Bud Black said. “He’s pitched well enough to, one might say, have double digits in wins with the way he’s throwing. But he’s a professional and he goes out there and makes his turn on every fifth day and competes as well as anybody I’ve been around. It’s great to see.”
In his only start against the Cardinals (54-43) this season on May 20, Maddux gave up two runs and five hits in five innings of a 3-2 victory, but did not factor in the decision. He is 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA in six starts versus St. Louis since 2006, and is 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts at the new Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals defeated the Padres 4-3 in Thursday’s opener, as Troy Glaus hit two homers and Rick Ankiel and Joe Mather each added one. St. Louis has won three of four to pull within four games of the NL Central-leading Cubs.
Glaus managed to stay hot over the All-Star break, and has now homered four times in his last nine at-bats.
“It’s getting warmer,” said Glaus, who had four home runs in his previous 91 at-bats. “That’s baseball. It’s just a good stretch now.”
Braden Looper (9-7, 4.25) takes the mound Friday for St. Louis hoping to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time in his career.
Looper didn’t pitch poorly in losing his final two starts before the break, allowing six runs in 13 innings, but received one total run of support in those games. The right-hander, who gave up four runs in six innings in a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on July 10, received an average of 8.88 runs of support in his previous four starts.
The Cardinals have backed Looper with plenty of offense in his three career starts against San Diego. He has posted a 3.44 ERA in winning each of those games while receiving 11.78 runs of support. In his only start against the Padres this season on May 21, Looper gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings of an 11-3 victory.