Castilla, Andruw Jones power Braves to win

ATLANTA (AP) -- Greg Maddux is beginning to find his Cy Young

form.

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Maddux won his third straight start and Vinny Castilla hit a

two-run homer as the Atlanta Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4

Tuesday night.

Maddux (9-8) went over the .500 mark for the first time this

season.

"It's about time," he said. "There's still a long way to go

and I've just got to keep it going. Getting a lot of runs,

especially early, makes it a lot easier."

The Cubs completed a big trade during the game, acquiring

outfielder Kenny Lofton and third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the

Pittsburgh Pirates for infielder Jose Hernandez and two minor

leaguers.

It's precisely the major offensive upgrade Chicago needed for

the stretch run. The Cubs are third in the NL Central, just 4½

games behind first-place Houston.

"It was the time to make a move. I think it's awesome," Sammy

Sosa said.

The speedy Lofton replaces injured center fielder Corey

Patterson, out for the season with a torn knee ligament, while

Ramirez provides power and fills a huge hole at third base.

"Aramis, when he's right, he's a big bat. Hopefully, a change

of scenery -- he's only 25 -- will do him good," Cubs manager Dusty

Baker said. "Lofton is a burst of energy."

Maddux, who won four straight NL Cy Young Awards from 1992-95,

allowed two runs, five hits and no walks in seven innings. He

stifled the streaking Cubs, who scored 31 runs on 41 hits in their

two previous games, a 16-2 rout of Florida and a 15-6 win over

Atlanta on Monday night.

"He was almost flawless, sharp as a tack," Braves manager

Bobby Cox said.

Maddux lowered his ERA to 4.36 and said he wasn't concerned

about his slow start.

"I don't worry about it. Everybody else worries about it so I

don't have to. I felt good tonight. Tomorrow I'll put in an Expos

tape and get ready for my next start," he said.

The Braves won for the 14th time in 16 games and stretched their

NL East lead over Philadelphia to a season-high 10½ games. The

Phillies lost 7-5 to the New York Mets.

Andruw Jones, who went 2-for-4, had his sixth consecutive

two-hit game and drove in two runs. Chipper Jones was 2-for-4 with

two RBI and Marcus Giles was 3-for-4 with three runs scored for

the Braves.

Atlanta never trailed, scoring a run in the first off Sergio

Mitre (0-1), making his major league debut, on an RBI double by

Chipper Jones that scored Giles.

Castilla hit his two-run homer -- his 16th -- into the left-center

stands in the second for a 3-0 lead.

The Cubs scored twice in the third on three hits off Maddux.

Mark Grudzielanek had a run-scoring bloop double off the glove of

second baseman Giles and Sosa had an RBI groundout.

The Braves broke it open with four runs in the third. They

knocked out Mitre in the fourth, scoring once for an 8-2 lead.

"Obviously, it was a tough night. I would have liked to do a

lot better," Mitre said. "I got the ball up a little bit. I made

a few mistakes and they don't miss."

The Braves had five straight singles in the third, including

run-scoring hits by Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Robert Fick,

and a sacrifice fly by Maddux.

Mitre was knocked out after a two-out RBI double by Andruw Jones

in the fourth. The right-hander gave up eight runs, 10 hits and

three walks.

Atlanta's 66-33 record, tops in the majors, is also the best

mark after 99 games in franchise history.

Sosa, coming off consecutive 3-for-4 games with a homer in each,

went 0-for-4 and struck out twice.

Paul Bako hit a two-run double for Chicago in the ninth.Game notes
Mitre got his first major league hit on the first pitch he

saw from Maddux, hitting a line drive single to center in the third

inning. ... Cubs CF Tom Goodwin left in the third inning after

straining his left hamstring while running to second on a double to

right-center. He is day-to-day. ... Castilla's home run was

Atlanta's 149th of the season, tops in the majors. ... The two RBI

by Chipper Jones left him in a second-place tie with Hank Aaron for

the most in Atlanta history with 897. Dale Murphy is No. 1 with

1,143.