ATLANTA -- Greg Maddux has 18 wins and a streak of 29 1/3 shutout innings, but he doesn't consider himself a Cy Young contender.
The right-hander, who already owns four Cy Young Awards, says the winner will emerge from a group that includes Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson and Darryl Kile.
"Johnson is going to be one run better in his ERA than me," Maddux said. "Glavine is going to win 20, and I'm probably not. Kile might win 20, so if you like 20-game winners you've got him and Glavine, and if you like ERA and innings and strikeouts, you've got Johnson."
Maddux, who has lowered his ERA to 3.00, the lowest it's been since June 24, explains his dominance during his past three starts with a standard line.
"It's luck," he said. "Maybe the defensive positioning has been better. I'm not striking more guys out. I'm probably making less mistakes, but it's not like I've got a new pitch.
"The big thing is I haven't given up any cheap hits, but I'm getting cheap outs."
The Boston Globe reported in Sunday's editions that "one big league coach has been telling friends that Bobby Cox intends to step down after the season, and his successor will be Jimy Williams."
The unidentified coach apparently hasn't checked in with the Braves' manager lately. Cox says he's happy and wants to continue managing.
"I want to go at least three more," he said.
No question the Braves would love to have Williams back. He's one of Cox's best friends in the game and has one of the sharpest minds.
The bullpen has not excelled lately, an ominous sign with the postseason fast approaching. Don't worry, pitching coach Leo Mazzone said Wednesday, the relievers will be fine when October arrives.
"We gave up some runs with huge leads," he said. "Sometimes it's more difficult to pitch in those games than close games. You say to yourself, just get the ball over, and you don't or you do, and you get hit. I'm not concerned about it at all."
In the first two games against the Mets, Kerry Ligtenberg and Scott Kamieniecki combined to get only two outs, while allowing three hits and six runs.
ANXIOUS BUT INJURED:
B.J. Surhoff's sore quadriceps is improving, but not fast enough to suit him. He hoped to play against the Diamondbacks last weekend, then the Mets, and trainers haven't cleared him. He's hopeful of returning against the Expos this weekend in Montreal, but he still hasn't pushed his running, and he might not play again until next week.
"I'm tired of watching those guys have all the fun," he said. "At some point I'm going to have to go out and play, and that point is getting closer. I'd like to have some at-bats going into the postseason."
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.