NEW YORK -- The Braves were heartened Sunday by Greg Maddux'sassurances he would make Thursday's start against the Marlins.
The four-time Cy Young winner, who left Saturday's game with ahyperextended right elbow after making just six pitches, said hiselbowed remained "tight", but he had good range of motion.
"(Doctors) said it could have been a lot worse this morning andit's not," he said. "I'm going to chill for three days and be readyto go on Thursday."
Maddux normally pitches in the bullpen once between starts. He saidhe won't do any throwing, exception for perhaps playing catchWednesday, before facing the Marlins. He downplayed the injury, sayingit was nothing more than the equivalent of turning an ankle.
"I banged my elbow, it hurt, and I came out of the game," hesaid. "It's not ligaments or tendons or anything like that. It will besore for a two or two, then it will be all right.
"I've done it before, just not that bad. I think everybody hasdone it. You say ouch, then you fire another (pitch), and you're OK."
Perhaps so, but Maddux's departure jolted the team. Without theirace, the Braves lost 7-3, as relievers Odalis Perez, Steve Reed, RudySeanez, and Steve Karsay combined to allow six runs.
"The way things are going, suddenly your ace gets hurt and itsends shock waves through your head," right fielder Brian Jordan said."Holy cow, what's next?"
Without directly criticizing any teammate, except chiding ReySanchez for taking a charitable slide against Phillies second basemanMarlon Anderson in last week's series in Philadelphia, Jordan saidSunday the team is playing soft.
"I think everybody is starting to feel the pressure and startingto lose their baseball skills," he said. "I see guys coming off thebench and swinging at everything they see. We've got to stop blamingthe umpires. We're complaining too much. We've got to get down toplaying baseball.
"I can smile after the game because I know I gave it my all.That's all I want everybody to do."
Karsay's line in Saturday's loss: 1/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R. Terrible,right? Yes, but the line doesn't show that he broke three bats, and theMets had more luck than hitting skill on their side.
"When guys hit ground balls and find holes, there's nothing youcan do," said Karsay, whose ERA rose to 3.12. "They just hit the ballin right spots. You kind of feel helpless. I don't think they hit aball hard."
In response to a question, Karsay said despite the poor outing, heis not inclined to make any changes in his pitches or approach.
"I feel comfortable with what I had, stuff-wise," he said. "Itwas a day that didn't go my way. Some days guys hit three bullets rightat people. I try not to look at it as more than it was."
ECT: The Braves, 2-5 on this trip, have scored just 22 runs in theseven games. While they continue to lead the league with a 3.63 ERA,the offense ranks ninth in average (.261), 13th in runs (651) and 13thwith a .323 on-base percentage.
The team will need an 10-3 finish to become only the second team inmajor league history to post 10 straight 90-win seasons. The Yankeeswon at least 90 games in 12 consecutive seasons (1947-58).
Chipper Jones has been the club's best hitter in the last 82 games,batting .350 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI. His season-high 15-gamehitting streak ended Sunday when he went 0 for 4 against Al Leiter, andrelievers Armando Benitez and Jerrod Riggan.
Kerry Ligtenberg is pitching himself back into the regular bullpenrotation. He has allowed five earned runs in his last 12 games, andjust seven earned runs in his last 29 games (1.82 ERA).
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.
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