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Junior's two-run shot spoils Maddux's return

4/8/2004

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Greg Maddux returned to his roots. Ken Griffey
Jr. returned to the lineup and got the better of him.

Griffey hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat of the season
Wednesday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-1 victory over the
Chicago Cubs that spoiled Maddux's reunion with his original team.

Adam Dunn also homered off Maddux, a four-time Cy Young winner
trying to reach more milestones and more playoffs with the
long-suffering franchise that got him started.

"Chicago is a special place, no question," said Maddux, who
left there for Atlanta after the 1992 season. "I enjoyed my first
six years playing there and always enjoyed going back there as a
Brave. There's a little added flavor when you wear the uniform."

On his big night, Maddux got eclipsed by another 30-something
star looking for a throwback season.

Griffey, who missed the season opener because of a strained
calf, hit his 482nd career homer to put the Reds up 3-0 in the
third and leave the pro-Cubs crowd in a funk.

Maddux turned away with a wide-eyed look as Griffey rounded the
bases on his first homer since July 12. The 34-year-old outfielder
dislocated his shoulder and tore a tendon in his ankle last year.

"It felt good," Griffey said. "I finally got a chance to go
out there and have some fun."

Ultimately, the only pitcher to win 15 games in 16 consecutive
seasons got beat by a pitcher who has never won more than eight in
any season. Paul Wilson (1-0) allowed only four hits in seven
shutout innings.

Wilson hadn't gone seven innings without allowing a run since
his last start of the 2001 season. He felt even more nervous than
Maddux at the outset.

"I felt like I was going 100 mph for the first couple of
innings, but I was able to settle down," Wilson said.

Ryan Wagner pumped his fist after striking out Sammy Sosa with
two runners aboard to end the eighth. Danny Graves gave up a
two-out homer to Derrek Lee while getting his first save on a
nostalgic night.

Maddux, who turns 38 next week, hadn't pitched with a cub on his
jersey since Sept. 20, 1992, the first of his four Cy Young
seasons. He returned to Chicago in February after winning 11
division championships and a World Series in Atlanta, hoping to
transfer some of that playoff feeling to his old haunt.

The thousands of Cubs fans in the crowd of 30,201 made him feel
right at home.

"I was OK," Maddux said. "I was surprisingly OK. Mentally I
was where I'd like to be for the next 30 games."

Maddux heard a "Let's go Cubbies!" chant as he walked from the
bullpen after completing his warmups. He and Sosa got the two
biggest ovations during introductions -- much louder than anything
for the home team.

Right away, those Cubs fans got to see some unexpected Maddux
history.

Maddux hit D'Angelo Jimenez in the knee with his first pitch.
Jimenez was caught stealing before Maddux hit Griffey in the calf --
the first time in his career that he'd plunked two batters in an
inning.

"I guess if you play long enough, it's going to happen," he
said.

Maddux never throws two pitches at the same speed and rarely
throws one that stays straight. Dunn got one that didn't bend and
hit it deep into the seats in right field in the second inning for
the Reds' first lead of the season.

An inning later, Maddux left one belt-high for Griffey, who's
had a lot of success the few times they've faced each other.
Griffey is 6-for-14 lifetime with two homers.

Maddux gave up four hits and two walks in six innings, paying
for those two bad pitches that spoiled the outcome but not the
occasion.

"I actually had a good time," Maddux said. "It would have
been better if we'd have won. I actually enjoyed the night and look
forward to pitching again in five days."

Game notes
Rain delayed the game for 33 minutes in the bottom of the
fifth. ... Maddux went 11 years, 6 months and 8 days between
appearances for Chicago. The only Cubs player with a longer such
break was Larry Gura, who went 11 years, 8 months and 18 days
(1973-85). ... Maddux made his debut with the Cubs on Sept. 3,
1986, as a pinch-runner for Jody Davis in the 17th inning. He
failed to score, stayed in the game, pitched one inning and took
the loss against Houston. ... The Reds started Griffey, Dunn and
Austin Kearns in the outfield for the first time since June 25. All
three had major injuries last season.