Originally created 09/13/99

Maddux off; Braves fall to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- It would have been a fitting farewell to the ballpark formerly known as Candlestick to have a wind-blown fly decide Sunday afternoon's game, but irony wasn't in the breezes.

What blew off the bay was an 8-4 loss to a Giants club that has taken some delight in halting the Braves' march to an eighth straight division championship, dealing them consecutive losses at 3Com Park while keeping alive their own postseason hopes.

With just 18 games to be played, the Braves head for San Diego only two games ahead of the Mets in the loss column and needing 10 more wins to reach 100 in a third straight season. With the victory, the Giants took the season series from the Braves for the first time since 1990 and finished with a 182-149 mark against them in 40 years at Candlestick Point.

"We play good here at night," said third baseman Chipper Jones, who reached the 40-homer plateau for the first time with a sixth-inning blast against Joe Nathan. "But we play like crap during the day. We ought to boycott day games here. It's so bright here you can't distinguish the rotation on the pitches. I can't remember the last time we won a day game here."

For the first time in almost two months, Greg Maddux glanced at the morning paper and saw a loss next to his name in the box score. Looking to extend his winning streak to nine games and his domination over the Giants to three years, he had trouble locating his changeup and the result was a 10-hit, five-walk performance that considerably dims his Cy Young hopes.

Maddux, who hadn't lost since a 2-0 setback to the Marlins on July 21, had won five straight against the Giants and was looking for career win No. 20 against them. He wasn't helped much by a defense that was alternately, too aggressive and not aggressive enough.

Andruw Jones' defense ran the gamut of suspect to spectacular. His throwing error in the fourth allowed the Giants to move ahead 2-1 with an unearned run, then he threw out Barry Bonds trying to stretch a single in the fifth. Maddux called the press box after leaving the game and asked the official scorer to reconsider Jones' error and charge him with the miscue because he failed to back up the play, but the ruling stood.

The Giants weren't nearly as compassionate to Maddux, particularly in the fifth when they strung together six straight hits and produced four runs, the most Maddux had given up in an inning since allowing four to the Phillies in the first inning Aug. 1.

"He didn't seem to have his normal control," Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia said. "With Maddux you're usually behind in the count, but we got ahead of him today and took advantage of it. I can't remember the last time we beat him. It feels good."

The six runs Maddux yielded were his most since giving up eight to the Cardinals in a 9-1 loss on May 4.

"It wasn't going down too good," said the four-time Cy Young winner of his uncooperative changeup. "It just wasn't sinking. I didn't throw any good ones. Ninety-nine percent of it was my fault and maybe one percent I can blame on the wind."


Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com


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