Originally created 04/24/04

Cubs top Mets



CHICAGO -- Greg Maddux watched as all the other Chicago Cubs starters but him got victories.

Kerry Wood. Carlos Zambrano. Matt Clement. Even rookie Sergio Mitre was ahead of the four-time Cy Young Award winner.

"You look up and we've won nine games and we haven't won any that you've played in," Maddux said.

He changed that Friday, beating the New York Mets 3-1 for his first victory since rejoining his original team.

"It's nice to play in one that we've actually won," he said.

It was the 290th win of Maddux's career, and his first in a Cubs uniform since Sept. 30, 1992.

"He looked like the Maddux of old," closer Joe Borowski said.

Maddux (1-2) gave up seven hits but only one run in seven innings, and he worked out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the third in vintage style. After getting Mike Piazza to ground into a double play, he struck out Mike Cameron.

Maddux struck out eight while walking one, and didn't allow a runner in scoring position after the third inning. His ERA dropped from 8.62 to 6.35.

Moises Alou hit a two-run homer in the first to give Maddux all the offense he needed, and Todd Walker added an insurance home run in the third. Borowski pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in as many chances.

Cameron hit a solo homer and the Mets outhit the Cubs 8-4. But New York stranded seven, and managed only three baserunners over the final six innings. The Mets have lost six of their last eight, and have scored only 12 runs in their last seven games.

Jae Seo (0-3) lost despite allowing four hits in six innings.

"The third inning was probably the ball game," Mets manager Art Howe said. "Maddux can get the ground ball when he needs it. He knows how to manage the game. He knows how to stop the bleeding."

Maddux spent the first five years of his career in Chicago, going 95-75 and winning the first of his four straight Cy Youngs. But he left after the 1992 season in a money dispute and went to Atlanta, where he developed into one of the great pitchers of his era.

While Maddux thrived with the Braves, the Cubs wallowed, and fans never forgave the team for letting him go. So when the Cubs signed the right-hander the day before spring training began, there was a sense of righting a karmic wrong. Not only was Maddux coming back home, he would have the chance to get his 300th victory where he started.

The return trip didn't start as well as Cubs fans hoped, though. Maddux lost his first two starts and wasn't involved in the decision in his third, giving up a total of 15 earned runs. He had as many walks as he had strikeouts (nine).

But on Friday Maddux flashed the form that has helped him win at least 15 games for 16 straight years.

After getting ahead of Karim Garcia 0-2 in the third, Maddux walked Garcia to load the bases with no outs.

"Just try to limit the damage," catcher Paul Bako said. "Obviously he did a great job of that."

Piazza hit a chopper back to the mound, and Maddux fired the ball back to Bako to get the runner at home. Bako then threw out Piazza at first. Maddux struck Cameron out to end the inning, and the Mets never threatened the right-hander again.

"In that situation, that's the only thing you're trying not to do," said Piazza, who was 0-for-4. "You can't necessarily guide the ball, but you want to try and keep it away from him. If I just get it past him, the runs will score."

The Mets made one last run at the Cubs in the eighth, when Garcia hit a long fly ball toward the bleachers in right-center. But Sammy Sosa made a catch at the wall, and Kyle Farnsworth struck out Piazza and Cameron.

"It's nice to win and help the team," Maddux said. "I feel good about winning and now I'll get ready for my next start."

Notes: Maddux's span of 11 years, six months and 22 days between victories in a Cub uniform is a team record. Ferguson Jenkins had gone eight years, six months and 15 days between victories. ... Cubs SS Alex Gonzalez sat out with a sore leg. ... Chicago CF Corey Patterson stole two bases for the third time in his career. ... Mets 3B Ty Wigginton has an ulcer and could be released from a New York hospital Saturday.