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Maddux helps Cubs snap eight-game losing streak

CHICAGO (AP) -- Greg Maddux worked hard for victory No. 314, then
rejected talk about his retirement.

The four-time Cy Young Award winner pitched his first complete
game in more than a year to lead the Chicago Cubs to an 11-4
victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, tying Gaylord
Perry for 16th on the career wins list.

"I'm not getting any younger," Maddux said after helping the
Cubs snap an eight-game losing streak, which tied a season high.
"I really want to play out the year and come back next season."

But he's 39, and not the pitcher he used to be.

Before the game, manager Dusty Baker hinted that retirement for
Maddux is a possibility while answering a question about Kerry
Wood.

When asked if he envisions Wood, who returned last week from his
second stint on the disabled list with shoulder problems, becoming
a long-term fixture in the bullpen, Baker said no. One reason is
the presence of closer Ryan Dempster. But Baker also said that
could leave the Cubs with two holes in the starting rotation -- if
Maddux retires.

"When you get to a certain age, there's always that option,"
he said.

The Cardinals probably wouldn't mind seeing Maddux go away,
although this wasn't a vintage performance.

Maddux (9-9) allowed 12 hits in going the distance for the first
time since July 22, 2004. He had help -- especially from Derrek Lee,
who hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning and a solo shot in
the sixth.

Lee has 35 home runs this season and 16 two-homer games in his
career.

Aramis Ramirez was 3-for-4 with two RBI, and Corey Patterson
had three hits, scored two and drove in one for the Cubs.

Cardinals starter Mark Mulder (13-6) again struggled in a day
game, tying a season high with seven runs allowed on nine hits in
four innings. He lost for the first time since June 22, when
Cincinnati scored seven runs. He is 1-5 in 10 day starts.

Albert Pujols gave Mulder, who was 5-0 with a 2.07 ERA in his
previous eight starts, an early lead with a two-run homer in the
first inning.

But the Cubs scored a run in the bottom half, two in the second
and one in the third before breaking it open with two outs in the
fourth.

After Jose Macias and Neifi Perez singled, Lee drilled an 0-1
pitch to the street beyond the left-field seats to make it 7-2.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the top of the fifth, but
Maddux struck out Pujols with two out and runners at first and
third. With two on and two outs in the bottom of the inning, Pujols
missed a throw to first by reliever Brad Thompson for a two-run
error.

"It's not Mulder's fault," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa
said. "Our team got beat. We had one really good chance [in the
fifth inning], and Maddux showed you why he's a 300-game winner and
got that out with Pujols."

Lee, batting .263 with six homers and 12 RBI in his previous 24
games, led off the sixth with his second homer. Before the game,
Baker suggested fatigue was setting in and called his triple-crown
contender "a victim of his own success." Lee said the issue was
time -- not fatigue.

Early on, it looked like the Cardinals would get the best of
Maddux.

After a 1-hour, 36-minute rain delay, they jumped on him in the
first inning.

On the second pitch, David Eckstein doubled down the right-field
line. And with one out, Pujols connected, sending a 1-1 fastball
into the center-field bleachers.

It was a rough beginning for Maddux, who was 1-5 with a 4.59 ERA
in his previous eight starts.

He settled down, though.

Afterward, Maddux said he wants to pitch next season, but didn't
dismiss the possibility of retirement.

The third year of his contract -- and $9 million -- becomes
guaranteed if Maddux pitches another 30 2/3 innings. With
approximately nine starts remaining, that shouldn't be a problem.

But Maddux said money won't factor into his decision.

"I've had my day," he said. "Let's shut down [the retirement
talk] right now. ... This is something that's not an issue right
now."

Game notes
The Cubs recalled LHP John Koronka from Triple-A Iowa
before Thursday's game and optioned lefty Rich Hill. This will be
the second stint with the Cubs for Koronka, who was 1-2 with a 7.63
ERA in three starts in June. Baker said he will be used in relief.
Hill was 0-2 with an 8.57 ERA in seven appearances -- four starts --
in two tours with the Cubs. He started Wednesday's game against
Cincinnati and allowed six runs, four hits and four walks in
three-plus innings.