ATLANTA (AP) -- Greg Maddux is beginning to find his Cy Young
Maddux (9-8) went over the .500 mark for the first time this
"It's about time," he said. "There's still a long way to go
and I've just got to keep it going. Getting a lot of runs,
especially early, makes it a lot easier."
It's precisely the major offensive upgrade Chicago needed for
the stretch run. The Cubs are third in the NL Central, just 4½
games behind first-place Houston.
"It was the time to make a move. I think it's awesome," Sammy
The speedy Lofton replaces injured center fielder Corey
Patterson, out for the season with a torn knee ligament, while
Ramirez provides power and fills a huge hole at third base.
"Aramis, when he's right, he's a big bat. Hopefully, a change
of scenery -- he's only 25 -- will do him good," Cubs manager Dusty
Baker said. "Lofton is a burst of energy."
Maddux, who won four straight NL Cy Young Awards from 1992-95,
allowed two runs, five hits and no walks in seven innings. He
stifled the streaking Cubs, who scored 31 runs on 41 hits in their
two previous games, a 16-2 rout of Florida and a 15-6 win over
Atlanta on Monday night.
"He was almost flawless, sharp as a tack," Braves manager
Bobby Cox said.
Maddux lowered his ERA to 4.36 and said he wasn't concerned
about his slow start.
"I don't worry about it. Everybody else worries about it so I
don't have to. I felt good tonight. Tomorrow I'll put in an Expos
tape and get ready for my next start," he said.
The Braves won for the 14th time in 16 games and stretched their
NL East lead over Philadelphia to a season-high 10½ games. The
Phillies lost 7-5 to the New York Mets.
Andruw Jones, who went 2-for-4, had his sixth consecutive
two-hit game and drove in two runs. Chipper Jones was 2-for-4 with
two RBI and Marcus Giles was 3-for-4 with three runs scored for
Atlanta never trailed, scoring a run in the first off Sergio
Mitre (0-1), making his major league debut, on an RBI double by
Chipper Jones that scored Giles.
Castilla hit his two-run homer -- his 16th -- into the left-center
stands in the second for a 3-0 lead.
The Cubs scored twice in the third on three hits off Maddux.
Mark Grudzielanek had a run-scoring bloop double off the glove of
second baseman Giles and Sosa had an RBI groundout.
The Braves broke it open with four runs in the third. They
knocked out Mitre in the fourth, scoring once for an 8-2 lead.
"Obviously, it was a tough night. I would have liked to do a
lot better," Mitre said. "I got the ball up a little bit. I made
a few mistakes and they don't miss."
The Braves had five straight singles in the third, including
run-scoring hits by Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Robert Fick,
and a sacrifice fly by Maddux.
Mitre was knocked out after a two-out RBI double by Andruw Jones
in the fourth. The right-hander gave up eight runs, 10 hits and
Atlanta's 66-33 record, tops in the majors, is also the best
mark after 99 games in franchise history.
Sosa, coming off consecutive 3-for-4 games with a homer in each,
went 0-for-4 and struck out twice.
Paul Bako hit a two-run double for Chicago in the ninth.
Mitre got his first major league hit on the first pitch he
saw from Maddux, hitting a line drive single to center in the third
inning. ... Cubs CF Tom Goodwin left in the third inning after
straining his left hamstring while running to second on a double to
right-center. He is day-to-day. ... Castilla's home run was
Atlanta's 149th of the season, tops in the majors. ... The two RBI
by Chipper Jones left him in a second-place tie with Hank Aaron for
the most in Atlanta history with 897. Dale Murphy is No. 1 with