08/07/2004 7:27 PM ET
Maddux welcomed into 300 club
Becomes 22nd pitcher to reach historic plateau
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Now that he reached No. 300, Greg Maddux is focusing on winning 15 games this season. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Move over, Early Wynn and Lefty Grove. Look out, Mickey Welch and Charley Radbourn. Heads up, Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry and Phil Niekro.
Say hello to the new kid.
Greg Maddux became the 22nd pitcher to join the elite 300-win club as the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-4, Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 42,578 at SBC Park.
Maddux (11-7) reached the milestone in his second try, and is relieved it's over. The number he's concerned with is 15, as in 15 wins. Maddux is the only Major League pitcher to win that many games in 16 consecutive seasons. The focus, he says, should be on the team, not himself.
"It's about the season, it's about the year," Maddux said on the eve of his second try at 300. "Three hundred is something that's getting in the way, if you know what I mean."
Not anymore. If he's the last to win 300 games, Maddux did so efficiently and intelligently and primarily with ground-ball outs, not with 98-mph fastballs. The milestone win took 594 starts and 4,115 1/3 innings to achieve, beginning with his first Major League start and win on Sept. 7, 1986. He was wearing a Cubs uniform then, too.
"I was there for the first one," said Cubs bench coach Dick Pole, who was one of Maddux's first pitching coaches. "I saw the first one and the 300th one. He's something else. They broke that mold. He hasn't done it with power, he hasn't done it with anything except pitching, finesse pitching."
"It'd be a good idea for younger guys to absorb or at least pay attention to what he's doing," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Do the math. If Giants starter Brad Hennessey, who was making his Major League debut, averaged 15 wins a year, it would take him 20 years to total 300 wins. The 24-year-old right-hander will have to wait his turn. Hennessey (0-1) gave up four runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings, but did escape a few jams.
"It's pretty special," Maddux said about moving into an elite class of pitchers. "I like to look ahead. I've never really looked back. When I'm done playing, I'll look back and I'm sure I'll pat myself on the back then. Right now, it's about my next start and the rest of the season."
Baker doesn't think Maddux will be the last.
"Somebody else is going to win 300," Baker said. "Somebody is always going to do something. There are going to be others. You don't know who they are. You didn't know it would be Maddux when he first started pitching.
"With modern medicine, when guys hurt their arms they can take something out of their ankle now and put it in the elbow and vice versa," Baker said. "They can come up with some stuff to have guys pitch for a long time if they keep those competitive juices flowing and if they want to pitch."
Three hundred is a number Maddux says he hadn't thought about until July 27. This year.
"When I'm done playing, I'll look back and I'm sure I'll pat myself on the back then. Right now, it's about my next start and the rest of the season."
-- Greg Maddux
"When I got to 299," he said when asked when he thought about his 300th career win. On that day, Maddux beat the Milwaukee Brewers for win No. 299. "I never for a second wanted to get ahead of myself. You never know what's going to happen in this game. I'll do what I can to enjoy it and get ready six days from now."
Maddux didn't even go onto the field for the postgame handshake. He was in the clubhouse.
"He didn't show any extra emotion," Baker said. "I know he wanted to get it over with, I do know that."
Maddux, 38, scattered seven hits and three walks over five-plus innings while striking out three, and improved to 4-0 since the All-Star break. Edgardo Alfonzo and A.J. Pierzynski each singled to begin the Giants' sixth and Maddux was done, exiting after 82 pitches to a standing ovation from the sun-drenched crowd, which was liberally sprinkled with folks wearing Cubs gear.
"It wasn't his best performance but it was a victory," Baker said. "You don't win 300 games with your best stuff all the time. There are days when you don't have your premier stuff and you depend on your defense and offense and timely outs."
"He looked like he always does," San Francisco's J.T. Snow said. "Three hundred is a number for a guy who's been around a long time and has had a great deal of success, there's no denying that. He's probably one of the best pitchers of our generation."
Corey Patterson and Moises Alou each belted two-run home runs, Todd Walker hit a two-run double and Derrek Lee smacked a two-out, go-ahead RBI double to spark the Cubs in the come-from-behind win.
This game wasn't as memorable as Game 1 of the 1995 World Series between Atlanta and Cleveland, for example, which was Maddux's first postseason start. He didn't dominate the Giants, he gutted it out.
"I didn't pitch that good today obviously," Maddux said. "Six runs, big home runs, good defense, the play (Alou) made running down that fly ball in the bullpen I think was one of the best plays he's made all year. Then (Alou) hits the home run. Everybody in the bullpen pitched. It was a total team effort and great to see."
Ray Durham tripled to lead off the Giants' first and one out later, Maddux walked Snow. Barry Bonds, who has the most career home runs off the right-hander with eight, hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to go ahead, 1-0.
Alfonzo hit an RBI single and Pierzynski added an RBI double in the Giants' third to go ahead, 3-0. Pierzynski's hit prompted a visit from Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
"I didn't have very good location with my fastball," Maddux said. "I was forced to throw more off-speed pitches than I would like to. When you're not locating your fastball the way you'd like to, you have to change it up a little bit and try to get by. Fortunately, we scored runs."
The Cubs rally began in the fourth. Aramis Ramirez doubled to open the inning, Lee singled and both scored on Walker's double to right, which Ricky Ledee misplayed, to close to 3-2.
Nomar Garciaparra, who had three hits in the game, doubled to lead off the Chicago fifth and scored two outs later on Ramirez's single to tie the game, and Lee followed with an RBI double to go ahead, 4-3, and chase Hennessey.
Paul Bako doubled to open the Chicago sixth and one out later, Patterson launched the first pitch from Tyler Walker into McCovey Cove over the right-field bleachers to make it 6-3.
Deivi Cruz added an RBI single in the Giants' sixth off Jon Leicester. But Alou's blast in the ninth off Brett Tomko, his 26th homer of the season, drove in Garciaparra and secured the win.
Maddux is the first National League pitcher to win 300 games since Steve Carlton did so on Sept. 23, 1983. Roger Clemens picked up his 300th last year with the New York Yankees.
"I think we're pretty much the same kind of pitcher," Maddux said about himself and Clemens, a hard-throwing right-hander now with Houston. "I think we do it at different speeds. We do the exact same things on the mound, just subtract 10 (mph) from the radar gun."
Now, Maddux can focus on his next start, Friday at Wrigley Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It is a sense of relief in a way," Maddux said. "Hopefully we can move on. I don't think anybody got too caught up in it to begin with. We can put it behind us and do what we can to get to the postseason now. The guys weren't worried about it but at the same time it's one less question they won't get asked about the next five days.
"Obviously, it feels very good and obviously to win 300 games you've got to have a lot of help," he said. "I've played on a lot of good teams over the years and a lot of times you're only as good as the guy who is behind you. Today was an example of that."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.