Originally created 07/18/02

Maddux stellar in Braves win



ATLANTA - Like most starting pitchers, Atlanta's Greg Maddux is not one to engage curious reporters in conversation on days he's scheduled to work.

Wednesday was one of those rare exceptions.

Three hours before taking the mound against struggling Florida, Maddux conceded the problems he's experienced with his strained left calf have been a big a pain - literally and figuratively - as the discomfort he felt in his backside at the beginning of the year. Just don't ask the Marlins for any Kleenex.

Aching calf and all, Maddux blocked out whatever soreness remained by scattering six hits over seven shutout innings as the Eastern Division-leading Braves flattened Florida 10-0 before a Turner Field crowd of 40,292 fans.

The shutout was Atlanta's eighth this year.

"I felt good. The calf hasn't really bothered me for a day or two," Maddux said. "It wasn't a problem for me at all. I was pretty much able to throw every pitch I wanted."

With the victory, Atlanta (60-35) becomes the first team to reach the 60-win plateau this year while the Marlins (45-49), who dropped their seventh-straight, remain the only big league squad without a win since the All-Star break.

Credit Maddux (9-2) for that.

Nagging injuries have been the major reason the veteran right-hander only lasted seven-plus innings four times in his previous 19 starts. Maddux entered play unbeaten in his last 14 starts dating back to May 6 at St. Louis.

"We win a lot of his games, I know that," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Greg's just that type of pitcher. You've got a chance to win every time he toes it up."

Kevin Gryboski and Albie Lopez each pitched an inning of scoreless relief to close out the game.

"I thought I could have gone back out, but hey, that's (Cox) decision and that's fine," said Maddux, who threw 85 pitches. "When you're coming off the mound you always think you can go at least one more inning. But what was the score? 8-0. There wasn't any need to do that."

Florida starter A.J. Burnett (8-7), who was charged with seven of Atlanta's 10 runs, found himself in trouble from the outset.

After Maddux used just eight pitches to breeze through the first, it took Burnett 22 pitches to get through the bottom half of the inning as Atlanta scored three times - two crossing the plate on RBI singles by Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones.

It might have been more had Vinny Castilla not grounded into a double-play scoring Jones from third.

Overall, the Marlins have allowed first-inning runs in 33 of their 94 games. With Maddux on the mound, this was obviously not the scenario that Florida manager Jeff Torborg had hoped.

"It's hard enough to beat Maddux when they score only one run. (Tonight) would have been almost impossible," said Torborg. "He was about as good as I've seen."

Atlanta pounded out 16 hits to support Maddux, including three each by Sheffield and Matt Franco. Seven different Braves drove in runs led by Sheffield and Jones with two RBI apiece.

"When you're on the same team as Maddux you really learn to appreciate him," said Sheffield. "Obviously, he's a good pitcher, but the thing I've really seen is the way he goes out and battles. You see him do that, and it makes you want to go out and do the same thing."