CHICAGO (AP)—Greg Maddux would have preferred a win over another milestone. But he acknowledged that getting his 3,000th strikeout Tuesday night was “pretty cool.”
Long after Maddux fanned Omar Vizquel in the third inning, making him the 13th major league pitcher to strike out 3,000, Jason Ellison singled home the go-ahead run in the 11th to send the San Francisco Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
“It would have been nice to win. And if it happened, great, and if it didn’t and we won, I would much rather have gotten no strikeouts and won. Trust me,” Maddux said. “But it’s pretty cool to get there. Not that many guys have done it.”
Maddux allowed eight hits and two runs in eight solid innings, but the Giants finally ended the long night that included a 2 hour, 43-minute rain delay at the start. The game lasted 3:28 and ended at 1:16 a.m. CDT.
Deivi Cruz and Mike Matheny hit consecutive one-out singles in the 11th off Glendon Rusch (5-4). Michael Wuertz then struck out pinch-hitter Yorvit Torrealba before Ellison hit a 1-2 pitch up the middle to score Cruz.
“The only bad pitch the guy (Wuertz) made lost him the game,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “He never gave Torrealba or Ellison anything to hit until that pitch.”
Maddux got his 300th win last August in San Francisco, and Tuesday night became just the ninth pitcher to reach both 3,000 strikeouts and 300 victories.
He struck out Vizquel on a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner. And a crowd of 39,002 at Wrigley Field—one that had waited out the delay, was roaring every time Maddux got two strikes on a hitter and popping flashbulbs—went wild.
“I don’t try to strike guys out. I never have,” Maddux said. “I’ve always tried to just make a pitch, but (tonight) I found myself maybe trying to strike somebody out and it kind of took me out of my game a little bit.
“You hear it. Believe me. You hear it,” he said of the crowd reaction.
Barrett took the ball and put it in Maddux’s glove as he crossed the third base line on the way to the dugout, and several of his teammates stopped to hug him and shake his hand.
“I appreciated it a lot for those guys to do that for me,” Maddux said.
Seconds later, Maddux emerged from the dugout for a curtain call to acknowledge the loud cheering and doffed his cap.
Needing two strikeouts to reach 3,000 before the game started, Maddux struck out leadoff hitter Ellison swinging in the first.
That elite 3,000 strikeout/300-win club includes Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson and Phil Niekro. Clemens and Maddux are the only active members.
“I remember when (coach) Dick Pole told me one day, `Why don’t you stop trying to strike guys out? Just try to get them out and you’ll probably strike out just as many guys, if not more,”’ Maddux said.
“He was right. I’ve always tried with two strikes just to make a pitch and get the guy out. You get a lot of strikeouts just on accident.”
Giants rookie Lance Niekro had two doubles and a single off Maddux, who’s never used an overpowering fastball to get his strikeouts, just great control and movement on a variety of pitches.
“It was fun to face Greg after growing up and watching the success he’s had,” Niekro said. “He’s around the strike zone, he looks to get you to hit the ball and hit it on the ground. His ball is always moving and he’s got good command of all his pitches.”
Giants starter Noah Lowry allowed just four hits in five shutout innings and drove in San Francisco’s first run with a fifth-inning squeeze.
Giants RF Moises Alou grounded out in the second and then left the game with a tight right hamstring. He was replaced in the field by Michael Tucker in the bottom of the inning. Alou, who spent three seasons with the Cubs, visited the Chicago clubhouse before the game.