Maddux, Pads inch back into first in NL West with 3-1 win over D-Backs
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Everybody seems to be impressed with Greg Maddux except the pitcher himself.
Maddux didn’t walk a batter for the sixth straight start and the San Diego Padres inched past Arizona and back into the NL West lead with a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.
Brian Giles, who homered in the third, scored the go-ahead run on Mike Cameron’s double in the eighth for the Padres, who lead the Diamondbacks by one percentage point. San Diego, trying to win its third straight division title, has won the first three of this four-game series. The teams will play a three-game series in Phoenix starting Monday.
The Padres have won seven of nine and have made up five games in the standings since Aug. 19. They’re back in first for the first time since leading Los Angeles by one percentage point on July 20.
The 41-year-old Maddux pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run and eight hits while striking out five. He got a no-decision after winning his previous three starts and four of five.
Maddux has gone 38 innings in his last six starts without walking a batter, and his overall streak is 42 innings. The last batter he walked was Astros starter Roy Oswalt in the second inning of a 3-1 loss at Houston on July 28. Maddux worked six innings that game.
Maddux has a ways to go to match his NL record of 72 1-3 innings, but the Padres will take whatever he throws out there.
“That’s phenomenal,” said manager Bud Black, a former big league pitcher. “He’s a phenomenal strike thrower. And he’s a phenomenal ball thrower, too. I mean, he can throw a ball when he wants and he can throw a strike when he wants. That’s what makes Greg Greg, is his ability to command the ball.”
Maddux isn’t getting all worked up about it.
“I don’t worry about it, you know?” he said. “Strikeouts and walks are overrated. I think I’ve just been fortunate enough to be in a position where I haven’t had to walk anybody.
“The last thing you want to do is have a meaningless walk streak affect how you go about hitters,” Maddux said. “I’m not good enough to just lay it in there and save a walk streak. I think my last one ended when I intentionally walked somebody.”
In August 2001, Maddux’s NL-record streak of consecutive innings without a walked ended when he purposely threw four balls to then-Diamondback Steve Finley.
Maddux deftly got out of a jam in the seventh, when the Diamondbacks had runners on first and third following two-out singles by Justin Upton and Owings. Black came out for a visit and let Maddux stay in the game. He struck out Chris Young, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.
“I thought he was throwing great,” Black said. “I wanted to let him know that I thought this was his at-bat.”
Said Maddux: “Yeah, I didn’t want to come out. I was going to lose it or keep it where it was and he gave me the opportunity.”
With the movement Maddux puts on his pitches, “You have to focus on seeing the ball over the plate or you’re going to jam yourself,” said Young, who did have an RBI double in the third. “He threw a good changeup for strike three, but I shouldn’t have been in that position.”
The Diamondbacks have lost 7 of 10.
“We didn’t want to lose the first three here,” said manager Bob Melvin. “We’ll keep our heads up and keep battling, like we have all year.”
The Diamondbacks are just 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Kevin Cameron (2-0) pitched a perfect eighth to earn the win.
Arizona starter Micah Owings also went seven and didn’t factor in the decision. He surrendered one run and only three hits, struck out six and walked one.
Giles opened the eighth with a single to center off reliever Doug Slaten (3-2), who made way for Brandon Lyon. Cameron hit Lyon’s first pitch off the base of the wall in left-center to bring in Giles, who had three hits. Adrian Gonzalez hit a one-out RBI single and was thrown out trying to take second.
Maddux allowed one run on three hits in the third but also saved a run with his defense.
Mark Reynolds and Upton opened with singles before Owings struck out and Young doubled to left-center to score Reynolds. Maddux, a 16-time Gold Glove winner, fielded Orlando Hudson’s chopper and threw out Upton trying to score, with catcher Josh Bard making a nice tag. Eric Byrnes flew out to end the inning.
The Padres tied it in the bottom of the inning when Giles hit a leadoff homer to right on a 1-2 fastball. It was Giles’ eighth, and the 1,000th run of his career.
It was Giles’ first homer at Petco Park this season, raising his four-season total at home to 23, in 1,024 at-bats.
Arizona’s Livan Hernandez will start Friday at Phoenix against the Colorado Rockies on three days rest. … Padres manager Bud Black said he still doesn’t know who will start Friday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers’ scheduled starter will be David Wells, who was released by the Padres earlier this month.