Maddux outdueled Pettitte for seven innings, and Aramis Ramirez homered and doubled twice to help the Chicago Cubs snap a six-game road losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Maddux (10-9) yielded just three hits -- his fewest since May 10 -- and shut down the Astros after Houston scored 12 runs on 16 hits the previous night.
Pettitte (10-9) pitched about as well as he did in his previous eight outings, when he went 6-1. But against Maddux, the few mistakes Pettitte made -- particularly three pitches to Ramirez -- proved costly.
Not that Maddux said he had it any easier.
"When you face somebody as good as him you really got to try harder," said Maddux, who allowed his fewest runs since pitching eight scoreless innings July 10. "I think mentally you burn out quicker than you normally do."
With the win, the Cubs pulled within 6½ games of Houston in the NL wild-card race.
Ramirez was 3-for-4 with two RBI, his last a high-arching solo homer to left in sixth. It was the 30th home run of the season for Ramirez, who continued to feast on left-handers. Ramirez is hitting .353 against left-handers, with 11 doubles and nine homers.
"I couldn't have thrown him three worse pitches," Pettitte said. "All three were just terrible. He must have thought I was Santa Claus after throwing those pitches. It was just sickening, especially the homer."
It was just the second loss since June for Pettitte, who allowed eight hits and tied his season high with eight strikeouts.
The Astros started the night where they left off Monday. Rookie Willy Taveras dropped a triple into deep right field on Maddux's first pitch, then scored one batter later when Craig Biggio grounded to shortstop.
But the four-time Cy Young winner quickly settled down.
Adam Everett doubled in the second, and Taveras beat out a short chopper in the third. Maddux then walked Lance Berkman two batter later, but it would be the last base runner the 39-year-old pitcher allowed.
"He didn't look as dominant as I've seen him in the past," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "He didn't use a lot of breaking balls or off-speed stuff, he just used his fastball. But we didn't strike it."
For Wood, the former starter continued his smooth transition to the bullpen. Wood has pitched seven scoreless innings in his six relief appearances, allowing just one hit and striking out 12.
Wood went on the disabled list on July 21 with shoulder inflammation and has been used as a reliever since his return. Manager Dusty Baker said Wood will stay in the bullpen for the rest of the season.
Wood has had success despite mostly eliminating his changeup and curveball from his options as a reliever. He said he instead relies on fastballs and sliders now.
"The mental part is easy," Wood said of his new role. "Just go in and get guys out."
Houston was shut out in consecutive games before opening the series Monday night with a 12-4 victory over the Cubs.
- The Cubs have homered in their last eight games.
- With the victory, Maddux has won at least 10 games for 18 consecutive seasons.
- The Astros took issue with umpire's Larry Vanover's strike zone throughout the game. Catcher Brad Ausmus argued a called third strike in the second inning and Morgan Ensberg did the same in the sixth. Garner came onto the field both times.
- Houston fell to 0-51 when trailing after eight innings.