Cubs 8, Padres 6

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP)—While the Chicago Cubs were busy spending nearly $300 million on free agents in the offseason, Greg Maddux quietly signed with the San Diego Padres.

Maddux said he doesn’t wish he was back for a third stint with Chicago, where he spent nearly half of his 20-year big league career and won four straight Cy Young awards.

“No, I let it go,” Maddux said Thursday after pitching three innings in the Padres’ sloppy 8-6 loss to the Cubs. “I’m kind of looking forward to taking a shot with this new team over here.”

Kerry Wood, meanwhile, gave up a grand slam to Terrmel Sledge, who’s in the mix to bat leadoff for the Padres. San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman allowed a solo shot by Daryle Ward.

Maddux had better control than he did in his first spring training start. He allowed two runs and five singles in three innings while striking out one and walking none.

“I felt much improved over the other day. That’s good,” said Maddux, who turns 41 on April 14. “It felt better coming out of my hand than four days ago. My brain was working a little slower, too, than four days ago, so that was good. I wasn’t rushing my stuff.

“I tried to relax better and throw better. You hope to continue to get better closer to the season.”

Maddux gave up four singles in the second, including RBI hits by Cesar Izturis and Felix Pie. Coincidentally, Maddux and Izturis were swapped for each other on July 31, with the pitcher going to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with $2 million and the shortstop going to the Cubs.

Maddux went 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA down the stretch as the Dodgers won the wild card. He signed a $10 million, one-year deal with the Padres.

On Sunday, Maddux lacked his characteristic pinpoint control against Oakland.

“His stuff was fine,” manager Bud Black said. “He got ground balls. Some balls went through the infield, but overall, I thought he threw fine. He commented that he was very comfortable. Today he looked like he was hitting his spots, for the most part.”

The Padres committed four errors.

“This was the first time we didn’t look comfortable defensively,” manager Bud Black said. “A lot of things happen in spring training, but that’s baseball. We just didn’t make the plays.”

Cubs starter Wade Miller also pitched three innings, giving up one run and six hits. He walked two and struck out two.

Ward allowed a solo homer to Geoff Blum in the second. He allowed two singles and a walk in the third, but was helped out by a double play.

“He had more life on his fastball, more snap,” manager Lou Piniella said. “He came on. That’s good.”

Wood, the Cubs’ former ace, is trying to come back as a reliever following shoulder surgery on Aug. 31, 2005, that limited him to just four games last season.

He was dominant against the Seattle Mariners on Monday, retiring the Mariners in order in his one inning. Against the Padres, he loaded the bases with a single, hit batsman and a strikeout-wild pitch before Sledge hit his third homer of the spring, with two outs.

“Kerry Wood is Kerry Wood,” Sledge said. “It’s only spring training. Hey, I wish it counted, but it doesn’t.”

Notes

43-year-old Padres lefty David Wells makes his first start on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe in a split-squad game. Ace Jake Peavy will start the other game, against the Cubs at Mesa. … The Padres had a free-throw shooting contest, which was the idea of the two former Princeton basketball players on the spring roster, RHP Chris Young and OF Will Venable, a non-roster invitee. The winning team included Venable, catcher Nick Hundley, infielder Craig Stansberry and minor league instructor Gary Jones. They beat Young, Black, Mike Cameron and Wells.

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