Cubs RHP Maddux notches 300th win

Updated: August 9, 2004, 10:03 AM ET
SportsTicker

CHICAGO - Greg Maddux earned most of the victories in his career with guile and masterful command. En route to joining one of the sport's most exclusive clubs, he was without both attributes but got a huge boost from his bullpen.

Maddux recorded career victory No. 300 by surviving five-plus rocky innings and five relievers combined to preserve the milestone victory as the Chicago Cubs posted an 8-4 triumph over the San Francisco Giants.

The 38-year-old Maddux became the 22nd pitcher to reach the plateau and second in as many years. And while many of the first 21 300-game winners did it with blazing fastballs, Maddux has carved his niche with precision, intelligence and guts.

"It's pretty special," Maddux said. "When I'm done playing, I'll look back and I'm sure I'll pat myself on the back then, but right now it's about my next start and the rest of the season."

After failing in his initial bid Sunday vs. the Philadelphia Phillies, Maddux was erratic throughout against the Giants. He allowed four runs and seven hits before being lifted two batters into the sixth.

Maddux's control, his calling card throughout his 19-year career, also betrayed him as he walked three and threw just 52 of 82 pitches for strikes.

"I didn't really pitch all that good today, obviously," Maddux said. "When you're not locating your fastball like you like to, you have to try other things. It was a total team effort. It was great to see."

Maddux was pulled with two aboard in the sixth and Chicago leading 6-3. With No. 300 in peril, he was the beneficiary of a clutch effort by Chicago's bullpen.

Jon Leicester got an out in the sixth but surrendered an RBIs single before giving way to Kent Mercker, who got the final two batters in the inning.

Mercker left with an injury and Mike Remlinger worked around a hit in the seventh. Things got even more precarious for Maddux as Kyle Farnsworth had runners at second and third with one out in the eighth. But the hard-throwing setup man got Dustan Mohr on a groundout with the bases loaded to preserve the 6-4 edge.

Chicago scored twice in the ninth and closer LaTroy Hawkins recorded the final three outs.

"It's the best thing I've ever seen in sports," Kent Mercker said. "I'm glad I got to pitch today and I'm glad I didn't screw it up. He's the best I've ever seen. He's got to be in the top five of all time. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy I was here to watch it live, every pitch."

"To me of all the teammates I've played with, it couldn't happen to a better person," Cubs righthander Matt Clement said. "He cares about winning and his profession. It's a number when you start pitching, you can't even comprehend."

Maddux joins Houston's Roger Clemens as the only active pitchers with 300 wins. Clemens reached the milestone with the New York Yankees in June 2003.

The last National League pitcher to accomplish the feat was Steve Carlton on September 23, 1983 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The only other pitcher to win his 300th game in a Cubs' uniform was Grover Cleveland Alexander on September 20, 1924.

Maddux won 95 games during his initial stint with the Cubs and the first of his four consecutive Cy Young Awards in 1992. He signed with the Atlanta Braves after that season and was a staple of a team that has won 12 straight division titles.

Maddux has a career record of 300-170, including a 106-82 mark with Chicago. Following his fourth straight win, he is 11-7 with a 3.99 ERA this season.

Last year, Maddux became the first pitcher in major league history with 16 straight 15-win seasons, breaking a tie with Cy Young. Over that 16-year span, he led the majors in wins (281) and innings pitched (3,782) and compiled a 2.76 ERA.

"This guy (Maddux) is always studying trying to get the edge," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He studies. He studies opposing managers. He studies me. He studies opposing hitters, different situations."

The future Hall of Famer earned his first win against the Cincinnati Reds on September 7, 1986.

Along with the wins, Maddux also is regarded as one of the best fielding pitchers in history, winning 13 straight Gold Gloves from 1990-2002. The only pitcher to win more was Jim Kaat, who captured 16 in a row.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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