Atlanta wins seventh straight game

CHICAGO (AP) -- With a strong wind turning lazy popups into long
homers, Greg Maddux knew it could be a long day for pitchers.

It was, just not for Maddux.

Maddux pitched a solid six innings and the Braves hit three home
runs to win their seven straight in a 13-3 victory over Chicago on
breezy Thursday afternoon.

"The wind's blowing out, you know that you're going to give up
a couple," Maddux said. "You just try to stay out of the big
inning and hope your team has one before they do."

Atlanta had several to back Maddux (7-8).

With the game tied at 3, Cubs starter Shawn Estes (6-8) walked
Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones to lead off the sixth. After
Andruw Jones struck out, Julio Franco and Castilla hit RBI singles.
Franco then scored on Henry Blanco's sacrifice fly to give Atlanta
a 6-3 lead.

The Braves then broke open the game with three runs in the sixth
and five more in the eighth.

Vinny Castilla homered, doubled twice and drove in four runs --
falling a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Franco was 3-for-5
with an RBI and scored three runs.

"They beat us up pretty good," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
"They scored the three runs, after that everything they hit was
hard and found a hole."

Atlanta added five more in the eighth on sacrifice flies by
Castilla and Jones, and RBI singles by Marcus Giles and Sheffield.

"We got a little bit of everything today," Braves manager
Bobby Cox said. "You knew it was going to be a day when someone
scored a lot of runs because the wind was blowing out."

Rafael Furcal led off the game with a home run and Blanco hit a
two-run shot in the ninth.

It was the first victory for Maddux in four appearances, and his
second straight strong start after two disastrous outings in which
he allowed 11 runs in 13 innings. Maddux allowed three runs in six
innings, striking out seven on just 87 pitches.

"He's been pitching pretty well the last couple games," Blanco
said. "Hopefully he figured out what he was doing wrong. I think
you'll see a different Maddux now."

After Furcal's homer, Atlanta made it 2-0 when Castilla doubled
in Franco in the second.

The Cubs took a 3-2 lead after Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer,
his 12th, in the second. Giles misplayed an easy grounder to second
base in the third that led to two more Chicago runs.

The Cubs got another shaky start out of Estes (6-8). The
left-hander last 5 1-3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits and
three walks. Estes is winless in his last six starts.

"Dealing with a hot team like that, there is just no room for
error," Estes said. "They hit every mistake I threw up there."

Paul Bako led off the third with a slow grounder hit right at
Giles, who bobbled it and couldn't get off a throw for an error.
Bako advanced to second on a bunt by Estes and scored on Tom
Goodwin's single. After an infield single by Mark Grudzielanek,
Sammy Sosa hit an RBI single between Maddux's legs.

Maddux said after the game he felt lucky to just get out of the
way of Sosa's liner.

"I'm not catching that one," Maddux said. "I'm glad it missed

Game notes
Maddux, who began his career in Chicago and pitched seven
seasons there, is 10-3 against the Cubs and 5-1 at Wrigley Field.
... Franco has hit safely in 21 of 23 starts this season. He
entered the game hitting .387 against left-handers, and was 2-for-3
against Estes. ... Maddux has allowed 17 homers this season, three
more than he gave up all of last year. ... Castilla is hitting .322
lifetime against the Cubs with 22 home runs.