Cubs homer in four straight innings

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs needed a big effort from Greg Maddux, and he certainly delivered.

Maddux struck out 10 in his best outing of the season and Corey Patterson hit two solo homers to lead Chicago over the New York Mets 7-0 on Tuesday night.

The Cubs won for only the second time in 10 games and homered in four straight innings, with Jason Dubois adding a solo shot and Jeromy Burnitz hitting a two-run drive.

"It's nice to win," Maddux said. "It's still early. Obviously we have a lot of time to get our act together and play the way we're capable of playing. I don't think it was life or death or anything before the game started, by any means. We just needed a win and we got a win. It doesn't matter if it's one run or 10 runs."

Maddux (2-1) handcuffed the Mets with an array of off-speed stuff, improving to 34-16 lifetime against New York. Cubs manager Dusty Baker was booed when he pulled him with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, but the fans gave Maddux a standing ovation.

It was Maddux's first double-digit strikeout game since he fanned 11 with Atlanta on June 15, 2003, against Seattle.

"I don't watch them when I let them go," Maddux said, referring to his pitches. "It felt good. It was nice to get some outs when you don't expect to get outs, that happened a couple times tonight."

Maddux didn't need much help. The right-hander gave up three hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings, throwing 100 pitches. He stranded two baserunners in the first and then retired 19 of the next 21 batters through the seventh.

"He put everything on his shoulders tonight and it showed," said New York's Cliff Floyd, who went 0-for-4.

Chris Woodward was the only Met to reach base during Maddux's run, with two singles. After notching two strikeouts in the seventh, Maddux walked Woodward, gave up a single to Kaz Matsui and walked pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson, loading the bases.

"He usually doesn't get that close to the 100-pitch mark," Baker said. "He probably was getting too close to being over his limit."

Michael Wuertz relieved and got Jose Reyes to ground out to end the inning.

Mike Remlinger struck out two in a perfect ninth, finishing the three-hitter. It was Chicago's second shutout and the first time the Mets have been blanked this season.

Patterson homered in the third and hit his eighth of the season in the fifth. Both went to right field against starter Kris Benson.
Dubois hit his fourth with two outs in the fourth inning. Burnitz's sixth homer was to left in the sixth and scored Derrek Lee, who doubled.

Dubois came into the game with a .290 average, but he only had 31 at-bats in 15 games.

"He had a big night for us," Baker said. "He got us on the board, drove in a couple runs. That's what we needed."

Patterson has been struggling a bit. His average was down to .256 coming into the game, but he homered for the third time in four games.

"Before, I was probably just pressing too much like we all do at times," he said.

Benson (0-1) allowed a career-high four homers in his second start of the season after returning from the disabled list -- he missed a month with a strained right pectoral muscle.

"I left some pitches up that I wish I could have back and they capitalized on them," Benson said.

He gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings, striking out three.

"He's just a little bit rusty, but he's starting to get back into rhythm," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.

Aramis Ramirez had an RBI double in the seventh, scoring Neifi Perez, who also doubled.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second. Burnitz singled with one out and Michael Barrett moved him to third on a single that took an odd hop over Reyes' shoulder at short. Barrett scored on Dubois' fielder's choice.

Before the game, Baker addressed comments from former Phillies manager Larry Bowa on a satellite radio show Tuesday that reliever LaTroy Hawkins was tipping his pitches last season. Baker said he was aware Hawkins had that problem last season, but it's not why he's struggling now.

"One of the main problems has been his fastball has leaked back over to the heart of the plate," Baker said. "He'll get two strikes, then he'll throw one on the outside and it will come back toward the plate versus staying straight or cutting away from a hitter."

Baker said Hawkins will likely move from the setup role to middle relief.

Game notes
The Mets struck out 12 times for the second straight night against the Cubs. ... The Mets came in with an NL-high 43 homers, but the Cubs now have 44. ... Patterson has five multihomer games, his last coming on Sept. 14, 2004, against Pittsburgh. ... It was Maddux's 16th career double-digit strikeout game.