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Finally, Maddux resembles himself on mound

4/13/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- What was good news for the Atlanta Braves was bad
news for the rest of the National League: Greg Maddux looked like
his old self.

Maddux, off to the worst start in his career, earned his first
win of the season by pitching the Braves past the Florida Marlins
7-1 Sunday.

Maddux (1-3) gave up one run and two hits in six innings,
lowering his ERA from 11.05 to 8.27. The four-time Cy Young winner
had lost his first three starts for the first time ever.

"What did you think he was going to do, go 2-14?'' said Mike
Lowell, who homered in the second for the only Florida run. "He's
won 15 games for 15 straight years.''

Pitching on three days' rest, Maddux walked none and struck out
three. He threw 59 pitches, 40 for strikes, before leaving because
of a slightly sore neck both he and Braves manager Bobby Cox
insisted was nothing serious.

"When you're fighting yourself, you're fighting every pitch,''
Maddux said about his early-season struggles. "I was fighting a
little today. Hopefully it'll be more fun next time out. I didn't
really settle down.''

The Braves gladly will take the Maddux of Sunday.

"He was more into it today, not that he wasn't into it during
his other starts,'' Braves catcher Henry Blanco said. "He really
wanted do everything right.''

Vinny Castilla homered and drove in five runs as the Braves
stopped Florida's four-game winning streak. Andruw Jones had two
hits and walked three times.

The Braves had scored five runs in Maddux's previous three
starts, including a 17-1 loss to Florida at Atlanta on April 5.
Maddux surrendered eight hits and seven earned runs in two innings
of that game.

"He's an artist,'' Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. "He
showed he's human to start the season -- he does that occasionally.
He was due to be right on. There was nothing wrong with his arm.''

John Smoltz pitched the final two innings to earn his third
save, completing the combined four-hitter.

Castilla's three-run homer in the ninth off Vladimir Nunez broke
it open for Atlanta.

Still, the story was Maddux getting into the win column.

"It's important,'' Cox said. "But hey, Randy Johnson is
looking to get one under his belt. (Curt) Schilling ... (Pedro)
Martinez ... they're looking for one, too. Maddux never lost
confidence. He gets upset at himself with some bad pitches. This
year, the hitters haven't missed.''

Florida's Juan Pierre went 0-for-4 to snap a 15-game hitting
streak, which was the longest in the majors. He had hit safely in
each of the first 12 games this season.

Mark Redman (1-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in five
innings. He walked four, including three consecutive batters in the
third.

"We think he was giving his pitches away,'' Torborg said of
Redman.

"When guys are on base, sometimes I tip my pitches,'' Redman
said. "It is something to think about.''

Redman walked Castilla to force in a run in the third to give
the Braves a 4-1 lead. Redman escaped a bases-loaded situation by
retiring Blanco on a double play to end the inning.

Lowell's fourth homer, a 440-foot shot to left, cut Atlanta's
lead to 3-1.

Run-scoring doubles by Julio Franco and Rafael Furcal, and
Castilla's RBI single staked Maddux to a 3-0 lead in the second.

Following a one-out walk to Andruw Jones, Franco delivered an
RBI double down the third-base line. Castilla then followed with a
single. Blanco singled and Furcal lined a double into the
left-field corner.

Game notes
Atlanta's Gary Sheffield doubled in the third to extend his
hitting streak to 11 games. ... Marlins 2B Luis Castillo was not in
the lineup on Luis Castillo Bat Day. "I wasn't aware of that when
I made out the lineup,'' Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said before
the game. "I should have been.'' ... Florida had been seeking its
first three-game sweep of Atlanta since Sept. 24-26, 1996, at home.
... The attendance was 21,834.