LOS ANGELES (AP)—Greg Maddux earned his 330th win to move into 10th place on the career list, which he acknowledged was “kind of cool.”
Pitching for a contender puts things in an entirely different perspective.
Maddux worked seven solid innings, and the Dodgers beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-3 Wednesday night to complete one of the most successful months since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
Off on Thursday, the Dodgers will begin September with a three-game lead over San Diego in the NL West—not bad considering they were in last place a month ago at this time. That’s when they acquired Maddux from the Chicago Cubs, a team that had no chance to make the playoffs.
“You try harder,” Maddux said when asked about pitching for a contender. “You’re not pitching for yourself. Any time you’re not pitching for yourself, you do better.”
The Dodgers went 21-7 in August, matching their highest single-month victory total since the move west from Brooklyn. Six of those wins came over Cincinnati for their first season sweep of the Reds while playing in Los Angeles.
Maddux (12-11) allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings while walking none, striking out three and throwing 77 pitches before being relieved by Brett Tomko to start the eighth.
Maddux entered the game tied with Steve Carlton for 10th on the career wins list.
“I had a chance to watch him pitch a few games,” Maddux said. “I’ve always admired what he did on the mound.”
Maddux, who pitched six hitless innings Aug. 3 in Cincinnati in his first game with the Dodgers, is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA against the Reds this season. He beat them three times while pitching for the Cubs before being traded to Los Angeles.
“He doesn’t have 300 career wins for nothing,” Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. said. “I mean, there’s a whole lot of other teams he’s beaten. It just so happens that it’s magnified because we’re in a pennant race.”
The 40-year-old right-hander also drove in two runs with a single and a suicide squeeze, and started double plays in the second and fourth after fielding grounders. Maddux has won 15 Gold Gloves in his career.
The Reds have lost six straight to fall to .500 for the first time since they had a 1-1 record. They trail St. Louis by 4 1/2 games in the NL Central.
“At the beginning of the year, nobody even put us in contention,” Griffey said. “So to be in this position, we’ve obviously done some things right. Look at those guys. I mean, didn’t they lose like 11 in a row? And now look at them. So, obviously, we could turn it around just like they did. And that’s what you’ve got to look forward to—getting on the right track.”
Maddux brought a .113 batting average to the plate when he lined a two-out single to center off Aaron Harang (13-10) in the second to put the Dodgers ahead for good. Russell Martin’s RBI single in the fourth and J.D. Drew’s run-scoring triple in the fifth made it 3-0.
Jason LaRue snapped an 0-for-30 slump by hitting Maddux’s first pitch of the sixth over the left-field fence for his sixth homer. Wilson Betemit and Martin hit one-out singles in the bottom half before Maddux laid down a perfect bunt, driving in Betemit. Maddux received a standing ovation as he left the field.
The Reds made it 4-2 in the seventh on Scott Hatteberg’s run-scoring single. With two outs and two on, pinch-hitter Javier Valentin hit a liner that appeared headed for right field, but first baseman Nomar Garciaparra lunged to knock the ball down and underhanded to Maddux for the out.
An RBI single by Reds pinch-hitter Todd Hollandsworth in the ninth completed the scoring.
Harang allowed 10 hits and four runs in six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Griffey singled in the second to extend his hitting streak to 15 games — longest by a Cincinnati player this season. … The Dodgers recalled LHP Hong-Chih Kuo from Triple-A Las Vegas, making room by optioning LHP Tim Hamulack to Class-A Vero Beach. … The Reds signed RHP Jason Johnson to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Louisville. Johnson was 3-12 with a 6.35 ERA in 20 starts for Cleveland and Boston earlier this season.