Cubs 5, Expos 2

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MONTREAL (AP)—Dusty Baker had plenty of praise for Greg Maddux after a significant win for each of them moved the Chicago Cubs into the NL wild-card lead.

Maddux threw seven shutout innings for his 302nd career win, and Baker got his 1,000th victory as a manager in Chicago’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Expos on Monday night.

Maddux (13-8), who became the 22nd pitcher in major league history to reach 300 wins on Aug. 7, scattered five hits, struck out two and walked none.

“(Maddux) was great tonight,” Baker said. “He had it working and going on.”

He also went 2-for-3, including an RBI single on a grounder which caromed off Paul Bako as he stood on third base.

“Hitting is the best part of the game,” Maddux said. “Seriously, it’s such a blast when you get a hit. I found a hole and Bako got me the other hit, a freaky play.

LaTroy Hawkins got one out for his 20th save in 26 opportunities to close out Baker’s milestone win. He’s 1,000-848 in 12 seasons with the Cubs and San Francisco Giants.

“It’s special,” Baker said. “Not everyone gets to 1,000. To let you know how quickly time passes, I remember my first one against the Cardinals with John Burkett pitching in ’93. It’s a nice personal goal.”

Chicago, swept by Houston in three straight at home over the weekend, moved a half-game ahead of idle San Diego in the wild-card standings.

“We needed this victory, especially since San Diego wasn’t playing and the Giants had already lost,” Baker said. “Now we’re in first place in the wild card.”

Terrmel Sledge hit a two-run homer off Jon Leicester in the ninth for the Expos, who lost their third straight and fell to 3-5 on their season-high 13-game homestand.

Sammy Sosa hit a two-run double off Rocky Biddle (4-8) in the Cubs’ four-run third after catching a break an inning earlier when plate umpire Ted Barrett called Montreal’s Juan Rivera out on a close play at home.

“He just missed the play,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “It could have changed the complexion of the game.”

With runners at second and third and one out, Rivera broke for home on Brian Schneider’s grounder. First baseman Derrek Lee’s throw home appeared to beat Rivera, who slid outside past catcher Paul Bako and reached with his left hand to touch the plate as he slid by.

Rivera looked up at Barrett, who made no sign until Bako came over and tagged him for the second out. Expos manager Frank Robinson argued the call with Barrett, then crew chief Ed Rapuano—the second base umpire, to no avail.

Barrett got a different perspective following the game and acknowledged that he missed the call.

“After looking at the replay, it looks like he made a great slide and got his hand in,” Barrett said. “So all I’ve got to figure out now is next time how to get in a position where I can see that.”

Mark Grudzielanek and Bako hit back-to-back singles in the third. Catcher Schneider’s snap throw to shortstop Maicer Izturis caught Grudzielanek off the base for the first out.

Maddux singled to right, and Rivera fielded it but his throw to third sailed into the Cubs’ dugout for an error, allowing Bako to score while Maddux advanced to third.

Corey Patterson’s RBI grounder to second made it 2-0.

Chicago loaded the bases on a pair of walks and third baseman Tony Batista’s fielding error on Nomar Garciaparra’s grounder before Sosa doubled to left-center to increase the lead to 4-0.

Bako hit a one-out double in the fifth and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Maddux hit a grounder down the third-base line which struck Bako on the back as he stood on the base. The ball bounced past Batista as Maddux got his second straight hit to put the Cubs up by five.

Biddle allowed seven hits and five runs—two earned—in five innings.

“Things didn’t fall our way,” Biddle said. “Maddux pitched a great game. There’s a lot of things that could have happened in our favor, but they didn’t.”

Notes

Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez missed his second straight start because of a strained left groin. … Expos 1B Brad Wilkerson didn’t start after he was hit on his right knee by a pitch and forced to leave Sunday’s 11-3 loss to San Diego. X-rays on his knee were negative and Wilkerson said he was available to pinch hit and expected to return Tuesday. … Montreal has made seven errors in its last two games.

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