Cubs 3, Brewers 0
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Greg Maddux wants to keep his streak alive—the right way.
Maddux (13-13) has won at least 15 games in a record 17 seasons. The Cubs have nine games left this year, and Chicago manager Dusty Baker has tinkered with his rotation to give Maddux the ball two more times.
“I’d love to win my last two starts,” he said. “I’d like to finish over .500 personally, but you’ve got to go about it the right way.”
Maddux did Thursday in earning his 318th career win, tying him with Phil Niekro for 15th on the career list. He plans to pursue Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton, next on the list at 324, by pitching again next season, which would be his 20th.
“I think I’m going to come back, I want to come back next year,” said Maddux, who returned to the Cubs last year after 11 seasons in Atlanta. “I was under the impression that I signed a three-year deal.”
But Maddux doesn’t think about the streak’s importance to the game, or its relevance in sports history, he said.
“Maybe they’ll just drop the number to 13 or 14 or whatever,” Maddux said. “I just worry about throwing a good pitch—making pitches—and let everything else away from that just go. I’ll do it my next two starts and I’ll do it for the next however many starts I have left in my career.”
Throwing only 78 pitches, Maddux held the Brewers to four hits in eight innings while striking out four and walking none before leaving with a knot in his back, which he said won’t affect his next start.
“That was pitch preservation,” Baker said. “He made them all count. That’s the thing—the guy can pitch.”
Ahead 3-0 in the fifth, Maddux also showed why he’s won 14 Gold Gloves. Bill Hall doubled with one out and advanced to third on Russell Branyan’s single.
Damian Miller, 10-for-26 lifetime against the four-time Cy Young winner, hit a liner up the middle that Maddux snared. Branyan, who had taken off, had no chance to return to the base as Maddux casually flipped the ball to Derrek Lee to end the inning.
“I just got lucky,” Maddux said. “I just threw my glove up and it stuck, every now and then you get a break and that was a break for us.”
Brewers manager Ned Yost said Maddux’s play affected his young team. The Brewers didn’t have another baserunner until Ryan Dempster walked one in the ninth in picking up his 29th save in 31 opportunities.
“There’s not a lot of pitchers that can catch that ball,” Yost said. “That ball was smashed.”
The game was scoreless in the third when Michael Barrett led off with a double against Rick Helling (2-1). Maddux swung away after showing bunt and hit a pop fly, but Neifi Perez flared a double off the left-field line to make it 1-0.
Helling, who finished after six innings with three earned runs, three walks and five strikeouts, got out of trouble in the fourth after walking the first two batters, but couldn’t escape again in the fifth.
Barrett walked, Maddux struck out attempting to bunt and Perez singled. Helling then threw a pitch about four feet over the head and wide of Miller, scoring Barrett and sending Perez to third. Todd Walker’s sacrifice fly gave Chicago a 3-0 lead.
Behind Maddux, the Cubs avoided being swept for the second time this season in Miller Park.
Maddux threw just 66 pitches in seven innings, and hadn’t thrown more than 11 pitches in any inning to that point despite rarely reaching above 85 mph. Still, he retired the Brewers in the seventh on five pitches.
“It was vintage Maddux,” said Yost, who was on the Braves staff from 1991-2002. “I don’t think there’s a team out there that can beat him when he’s on like he was today.”
The Brewers activated P Julio Santana from the 15-day disabled list. … The Brewers have 10 wins in September. Last year, the Brewers won just 11 games from Sept. 1 on. … Chicago went 7-9 against the Brewers this season. It’s the first time the Cubs have had a losing record against Milwaukee since 2002.