CHICAGO (AP) -- Greg Maddux insists it was no big deal.
Considering what the Chicago Cubs' pitching staff has gone through
already this season, it certainly was disconcerting.
Maddux pitched 6 2-3 strong innings Monday before leaving with a
mild muscle strain in his right side in the Cubs' 3-1 win over the
Houston Astros."I'm OK. I mean I was more tired than anything. I mean there is
nothing wrong," Maddux said after his 293rd career win."I've done it a lot of times. Last year. A couple of times
earlier in the season. Spring training. It's not why I came out of
the game. I came out of the game because I was done. I was tired,
and I was ready to come out."With Mark Prior finally ready to pitch this Friday after
spending two months on the disabled list and with Kerry Wood still
on the DL because of a sore triceps, the sight of Maddux walking
off the mound with trainer Dave Groeschner seemed almost too
familiar.Maddux looks forward to pitching on the side in two days and is
not expected to miss his next start.He gave up seven hits Monday, including Lance Berkman's ninth
homer in the last 13 games.After Maddux walked Craig Biggio with two outs in the seventh,
putting runners at first and third, Groeschner and manager Dusty
Baker went to the mound."He said it usually goes away," Baker said. "He knows himself
at this point better than anyone. He said it didn't go away and we
had to go and get him."Moments later, Maddux walked off with Groeschner."He really could have stayed in there, just at that point in
the game you don't want to take a chance," Groeschner said. "It
was a good time to get him out."Kyle Farnsworth relieved and fanned Adam Everett to end the
threat."I'm not worried about it. It's nothing," Maddux said. `It's
nothing serious."Joe Borowski, Chicago's fourth pitcher, worked the ninth for his
ninth save in 10 chances.Moises Alou's 13th homer came through a light rain and followed
a single by Corey Patterson in the fifth off Roy Oswalt (3-4).Oswalt, who allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings,
didn't give up a run to Chicago in a seven-inning stint last week.
Alou's two-out homer was the difference."It was one of those days were one pitch was the ballgame,"
Oswalt said. "Just the way the ball sounded of the bat, I didn't
really think it would go out, but you get it up in the wind here
..."Todd Hollandsworth hit a broken-bat double down the left-field
line in the second and raced to third when second baseman Jeff Kent
fumbled Berkman's relay for an error. Ramon Martinez then poked an
RBI single to right to give Maddux a 1-0 cushion.Richard Hidalgo doubled to start the seventh and moved up on a
sacrifice, but first baseman Derrek Lee saved a run with a diving
grab of pinch-hitter Michael Lamb's line drive. Biggio then walked
and Maddux was removed.Berkman's homer was his 14th of the season. He's 23-for-54 in
his last 14 games (.426)."It's the same feeling when you're going up there," he said.
"You feel pretty comfortable. Instead of missing the ball or
fouling it off, you're hitting it square."
^Notes:@ Maddux, who'd been roughed up for three homers by the
Astros last week, is 23-10 against Houston. ... Berkman's homer was
the 140th of his career, moving him into fifth place on the Astros'
list. ... Mark Prior (Achilles' tendon, elbow) is to come off the
disabled list this week and make his first start of the season
Friday against the Pirates. ... Wood was examined again for his
sore triceps and could start throwing by the end of the week. Sammy
Sosa (back) could start swinging a bat this week but won't take BP.
... Jeff Kent extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a
second-inning single. ... The Astros put Andy Pettitte on the
disabled list with a sore forearm and activated Chad Harville
(hamstring), who pitched two scoreless innings in a rehab
assignment Sunday night.