Maddux struggles in Atlanta return
Lee exits early with shoulder injury; Hollandsworth homers
ATLANTA -- Greg Maddux received a rude welcome back Tuesday night. For All-Star Derrek Lee, Tuesday's game was painful.
And for the Chicago Cubs, it was a frustrating repeat -- and another loss.
Marcus Giles drove in three runs to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 5-1 victory over Maddux and the Cubs, who may have to do without Lee for at least one day.
The Chicago first baseman had to leave the game after aggravating a sore left shoulder during a swing in the first inning. The top vote-getter in the National League balloting, Lee has had some inflammation in his shoulder for nearly two weeks. He declined an invitation to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game because of it.
Lee will undergo a precautionary MRI on Wednesday in Atlanta, and his status is day-to-day.
"It's from one swing," Lee said. "I just tweaked it a little bit and it caused some inflammation.
"I've got inflammation in a bad place," he said. "Some days it's fine. If you don't get it inflamed it's fine, but some days you take a funny swing and it flares up."
He entered the game leading the National League in batting with a .378 average, was second in home runs with 25, and tied for second in RBIs with 67.
"His shoulder's been bothering him on and off for a little while," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He took a swing tonight and re-aggravated it again. He has to go see the doctor here and, hopefully, we'll have some good news [Wednesday]."
The Cubs could use some positive news. Tuesday's loss was their sixth in a row, one shy of the season high. What do they need to turn things around?
"A win," Maddux said. "We just need a win, no matter how, whether it's 1-0 or 10-9, we just need to try to get a little momentum going."
Maddux (7-6) was pitching in Atlanta for the first time since leaving the Braves after the 2003 season. He had pitched here from 1993-2003, and this was the first time he's worn a uniform other than the Braves in Atlanta since 1992. He looked right at home until the fifth.
"It was just another game," Maddux said. "Time takes care of issues. I'm grateful for what the Braves gave me. It was a privilege to play for them. I enjoyed coming back."
The Braves took a 1-0 lead on Giles' RBI single in the first, but Todd Hollandsworth tied the game against starter Roman Colon (1-4) with a one-out homer in the Cubs' second, his fifth.
In the Atlanta fifth, Wilson Betemit singled with one out and advanced on a sacrifice. Rafael Furcal then walked, and Kelly Johnson hit an RBI single to make it 2-1. Giles followed with a two-run double, and Andruw Jones added an RBI single for a 5-1 lead.
|Greg Maddux / P|
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"Maddux is Maddux," said Jones, who was facing his former teammate for the first time. "He's a Hall of Fame pitcher and he's got good stuff. But when he makes a mistake, that's when you've got to take advantage.
"He definitely pitched like he normally pitches," Jones said. "We just got lucky when we had people on base, and we put the ball in play."
"He had [several] strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "I thought he was dealing. We hit three balls good. We placed the ball real nice tonight."
Maddux had to put aside any friendships for one night.
"I'm trying to get them out, trying to get a win," he said. "We can be friends after the game."
Maddux gave up five runs on eight hits and one walk over six innings, while striking out six to raise his career total to 2,985 Ks.
"[Maddux] was good except that one inning," Baker said of the fifth. "It actually got started by the blooper by Johnson. Then, they tacked on some more. We've got to stay out of a big inning, and we have to create some on our own."
The Cubs have struggled to create much of anything during this stretch.
"We're not getting [hits] with runners on base, and they did," Baker said. "They had another crooked-number inning. During the streak that we're in, that's been the story every day almost.
"There's plenty of passion and emotion," he said. "There's probably more frustration than anything. We battled back to [.500], and then went backwards."
The game was delayed 1 hour and 59 minutes because of rain in the middle of the seventh inning.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.