clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maddux quietly gets 300th win

Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning Saturday. He went on to win the game \\\\— the 300th victory of his career.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning Saturday. He went on to win the game \\\\— the 300th victory of his career.
Ben Margot, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Greg Maddux has always been a man of little fanfare, so that's exactly how he handled his 300th win — with a quiet step into history.

Maddux never returned to the field after the final out was made. Fans hollered as he worked his way down the hallway to a postgame interview, and Maddux practically pursed his lips to keep from reacting. It took a near mugging by a bunch of teammates at his locker to finally make him smile.

"It's pretty special," he said. "I like to look ahead. I've never really looked back. When I'm done playing I'll look back. I'm sure I'll pat myself on the back then."

Maddux calmly overcame a shaky start to become the 22nd major league pitcher to reach 300 victories, leading the Chicago Cubs over the San Francisco Giants 8-4 on Saturday.

Maddux relied on guts, guile and his bullpen to win his 300th game because he never quite found the pinpoint control that has so defined his stellar career.

"Obviously, to win 300 games, you've got to have a lot of help. I've played on a lot of good teams, and a lot of times, you're only as good as the guys behind you. Today was a good example," Maddux said.

He is the first National Leaguer to accomplish the feat since Philadelphia's Steve Carlton in 1983. Roger Clemens was the last to do it on his fourth attempt for the New York Yankees on June 13 last season.

Maddux needed just two tries — he got a no-decision in his first chance last Sunday against the Phillies.

In the clubhouse, Sammy Sosa and several others surrounded Maddux for a celebratory shower of champagne and beer. Once he was soaked, Maddux enjoyed his first visible celebration with a long swig of champagne.

"Here you go, Hall of Famer!" one player said.

Maddux left in the sixth with a 6-3 lead, no outs and two runners on, bumping fists with manager Dusty Baker. But Maddux didn't acknowledge the cheering, sellout crowd as he headed into the dugout and then on to the clubhouse to wait out his fate after throwing 82 pitches.

The Cubs' relievers came through.

Jon Leicester and Kent Mercker escaped the jam with Chicago ahead 6-4. Mercker retired Ray Durham on a popup to end the sixth inning.

Kyle Farnsworth got Dustan Mohr to ground out with the bases loaded in the eighth, and LaTroy Hawkins secured the win with a scoreless ninth.

After the final out, Cubs fans held up a large "W" banner, and a graphic recognizing Maddux's achievement was shown on the center-field scoreboard. But Maddux never came back onto the field. He didn't feel it would be right to hold a huge celebration in somebody else's ballpark.

"It was fitting. Greg meant what he says. He's a sincere man," Baker said. "He pitched well enough to win. You don't win 300 games with your best stuff all the time."

The 38-year-old right-hander certainly wanted to get this major milestone over with, and so did the rest of the Cubs — who knew their star pitcher cared more about bringing the focus back to their playoff chase.

Chicago's potent lineup rallied from a three-run deficit to help Maddux (11-7) win his fourth straight decision and improve his career record to 300-170.

"It's more of a sense of relief more than anything," 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 postseason."

He allowed four runs and seven hits in five-plus innings, striking out three and walking three. Maddux is the second Cubs pitcher to reach 300 wins after Grover Cleveland Alexander did it in 1924.

"I didn't really pitch all that good today," said Maddux, who was quickly joined by his wife and kids. "It was a total team effort. It was great to see."

Everybody thought it would be easier for Maddux once the Giants moved ace Jason Schmidt up a day to pitch Friday, then called up right-hander Brad Hennessey to make his major league debut.

But that wasn't the case through the early innings, when Maddux labored and never looked comfortable on the mound, and Hennessey (0-1) got two early strikeouts against Sosa.

Maddux allowed five hits and walked three through three innings, throwing 61 pitches.

"He pitched like he always does," San Francisco's J.T. Snow said. "We were a hit away from a big inning, but he made the pitches when he had to. Any time you face him, you're in for a tough game."

Todd Walker had a two-run double in the fourth, and Chicago tied the game at 3 on Aramis Ramirez's RBI single in the fifth. Derrek Lee followed with a go-ahead double to chase Hennessey, who received a standing ovation as he left.

In the next inning, Corey Patterson hit a two-run homer to give the Cubs a 6-3 lead. Moises Alou added a two-run shot in the eighth.

Hennessey, who was 6 years old when Maddux made his major league debut in September 1986, allowed four earned runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.

It was the first time a pitcher reached 300 wins against a pitcher making his major league debut since John McPherson lost to Cy Young in 1901.

It wasn't easy. Maddux gave up a sacrifice fly to Barry Bonds in the first, his 18th career RBI against the four-time NL Cy Young Award winner.

Maddux was picked by the Cubs in the second round of the 1984 draft, then signed with the Braves as a free agent in 1992. He has a major league-record 16 straight seasons with 15 or more wins — the last 11 with Atlanta.

He rejoined the Cubs as a free agent in February.

"That's the most amazing thing about him. If you saw him going about his business, you'd think he was just another guy trying to stay in the big leagues," said teammate Mike Remlinger, who's played five years with Maddux in Atlanta and Chicago. "He's there every day, doing all the little things you need to do to be successful. It makes you strive to have the same approach."

300-win club

300 Club Members: 22

Active: Roger Clemens (322), Greg Maddux (300)

Most wins: Cy Young (511)

Recent members: Steve Carlton (329), Nolan Ryan (324), Don Sutton (324), Phil Niekro (318), Gaylord Perry (314), Tom Seaver (311)