|Chi. Cubs «||0||2||0||1||0||0||3||0||0||6||12||0|
It takes a lot of the unusual to beat the Cincinnati Reds these days.
Maddux beat baseball's hottest team for the third time this season, and Dempster survived a scare while closing out the Chicago Cubs' 6-5 victory Friday night, ending the Reds' eight-game winning streak.
"Ain't never easy," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Dang, it was a tough one. We needed this one badly. We were due to win one of these."
The Cubs emerged from a three-game losing streak with Henry Blanco's three RBI and a short but solid performance by Maddux (7-5), who has beaten the Reds three times this season. He gave up four hits, including solo homers by Adam Dunn and Scott Hatteberg, in 5 1/3 innings.
Maddux's 325th career win broke a tie with Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton for 13th on the career list. Eddie Plank is next on the list, one victory ahead.
Maddux took a grounder off his lower right leg in the third, and Baker didn't hesitate to go to his bullpen early when the Reds threatened in the sixth. He lifted Maddux after only 66 pitches.
"I didn't like the way he was throwing in that one inning," Baker said. "He was getting everything up."
Maddux didn't second-guess the decision.
"That's just trying to win," Maddux said. "Our bullpen's done a great job all year. I didn't see a problem with it."
The problems came when Dempster got into the game in the ninth with a 6-4 lead. Dempster, who had blown three of his last five save chances, loaded the bases with no outs, then walked Ryan Freel to force in a run.
"Early on, I wasn't fully committed. I don't know why," Dempster said. "I just wasn't there. It took me walking in a run to finally calm down and get it done. It was definitely exciting. My heart's still going."
Dempster struck out Felipe Lopez, got Brandon Phillips to line out, then retired Ken Griffey Jr. on a routine grounder to end it for his 10th save in 13 chances. He threw 35 pitches in that one dramatic one inning.
The Reds were stunned after their first loss in June.
"We knew we were going to win, but things happen," Phillips said. "When Freel got on base, I said, 'It's over."'
The Reds got back into the NL Central race with their longest winning streak since 1999. On Friday, they drew their first capacity crowd since an opening-day loss to the Cubs.
The 41,064 fans cheered loudly for Griffey, back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore thigh. The All-Century outfielder was a .417 career hitter off the four-time Cy Young winner, but grounded out and flied out in their two head-to-head matchups.
Blanco had a two-run double and a sacrifice fly off Elizardo Ramirez (2-5), driving in one run more than the Cubs had managed in their last three games combined. Blanco, one of the NL's top defensive catchers, also threw out Lopez as he tried to steal second base in the sixth inning, undercutting a rally.
Maddux is having a season of extremes. He opened 5-0 for the first time in his career, winning all of his April starts and turning 40 years old along the way.
Once the calendar turned, so did his fortunes. Maddux went into a 1-5 slump -- the only victory was over Cincinnati -- with a 7.75 ERA in his next seven starts. He was back in form on Friday, which started with more bad news for the Cubs.
Right-hander Kerry Wood went back on the 15-day disabled list before the game with stiffness in his shoulder. He rejoined right-hander Mark Prior, who has been on the DL all season.
With their two most accomplished pitchers sidelined and leading hitter Derrek Lee out with two broken bones above his right wrist, the Cubs have foundered.
|Felipe Lopez grimaces after striking out against Chicago's Ryan Dempster in the ninth. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Tony Womack, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.293|
|Juan Pierre, CF||5||1||0||0||0||0||2||.231|
|Todd Walker, 1B||4||1||1||1||1||0||1||.305|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||5||1||2||2||0||0||3||.242|
|Jacque Jones, RF||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||.306|
|Ronny Cedeno, SS||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.296|
|Freddie Bynum, LF||2||0||0||0||1||0||3||.207|
|Scott Eyre, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Bob Howry, P||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||1.000|
|Ryan Dempster, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Henry Blanco, C||3||1||2||3||0||0||2||.125|
|Greg Maddux, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||3||.154|
|Matt Murton, LF||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.276|
|2B - Aramis Ramirez 2 (13, Ramirez, Hammond), Henry Blanco (2, Ramirez)|
|SF - Henry Blanco (2)|
|SH - Tony Womack (3)|
|RBI - Todd Walker (29), Aramis Ramirez 2 (34), Henry Blanco 3 (6)|
|2-OUT RBI - Todd Walker (6), Aramis Ramirez 2 (12), Henry Blanco 2 (3)|
|SB - Juan Pierre (20, 3rd base off Ramirez/Valentin)|
|CS - Ronny Cedeno (5, 2nd base by Ramirez/Valentin)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Greg Maddux (W,7-5)||5.1||4||2||2||0||2||2||4.09|
|Scott Eyre (H,7)||1||2||2||2||2||0||0||2.30|
|Bob Howry (H,8)||1.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||2.10|
|Ryan Dempster (S,10)||1||1||1||1||3||1||0||3.49|
|Pitches-Strikes - Greg Maddux 66-43, Scott Eyre 26-14, Bob Howry 23-14, Ryan Dempster 35-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Greg Maddux 8-6, Bob Howry 1-2, Ryan Dempster 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Greg Maddux 20, Scott Eyre 6, Bob Howry 6, Ryan Dempster 7|
|Felipe Lopez, SS||5||0||2||1||0||2||3||.288|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||0||7||.308|
|Ken Griffey Jr., CF||4||0||0||0||1||0||3||.289|
|Rich Aurilia, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.263|
|Scott Hatteberg, 1B||4||1||1||1||0||1||0||.288|
|Adam Dunn, LF||2||3||1||1||2||0||0||.231|
|Austin Kearns, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.283|
|Eric Milton, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.188|
|Rick White, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kent Mercker, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Esteban Yan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- David Ross, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.354|
|Javier Valentin, C||3||0||1||1||1||0||0||.227|
|Quinton McCracken, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Elizardo Ramirez, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.143|
|b- Ray Olmedo, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.400|
|Chris Hammond, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Ryan Freel, PH-RF||1||0||0||1||1||1||2||.281|
|a-singled for Yan in the 9th|
|b-doubled for Ramirez in the 6th|
|c-struck out for Hammond in the 7th|
|2B - Ray Olmedo (1, Maddux)|
|HR - Scott Hatteberg (4, Maddux), Adam Dunn (19, Maddux)|
|RBI - Felipe Lopez (24), Scott Hatteberg (15), Adam Dunn (36), Javier Valentin (8), Ryan Freel (13)|
|2-OUT RBI - Felipe Lopez (7), Adam Dunn (12)|
|CS - Felipe Lopez (6, 2nd base by Eyre/Blanco)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Aurilia-B. Phillips-Hatteberg|
|E - Javier Valentin 2 (5, misplayed grounder)|
|Elizardo Ramirez (L,2-5)||6||6||3||3||1||3||0||4.02|
|Pitches-Strikes - Elizardo Ramirez 95-61, Chris Hammond 28-19, Rick White 10-8, Kent Mercker 13-6, Esteban Yan 5-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Elizardo Ramirez 5-10, Chris Hammond 1-1, Rick White 1-0, Kent Mercker 2-0, Esteban Yan 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Elizardo Ramirez 25, Chris Hammond 7, Rick White 3, Kent Mercker 4, Esteban Yan 1|
|Attendance - 41065|
|Game Time - 3:11|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Randy Marsh, Second Base - Angel Hernandez, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt|