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Updated: Sunday, September 7, 2003 12:55 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Pittsburgh Pirates
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
2 9 1
Atlanta Braves
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
9 16 1
W Maddux (14-10)
L D'Amico (8-14)
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ATLANTA 9, PITTSBURGH 2
 

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Greg Maddux passed Robin Roberts and joined Warren Spahn , Eddie Plank and Bert Blyleven . Next up are Tommy John and the immortal Cy Young .

The masterful Maddux continued to rewrite pitching history, throwing just 16 balls in 7 1/3 innings as the Atlanta Braves cruised to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates .

Maddux (14-10) notched his 287th career win, moving ahead of Roberts and tying Blyleven for 24th on the all-time list. The crafty righthander is one win behind John.

"It feels good," Maddux said. "We have a lot going on. This is the time of the year for the postseason."

"It's real impressive," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's been a consistent guy. He doesn't miss starts. He's a workhorse."

Maddux has won at least 14 games in 16 straight seasons, becoming just the third pitcher in major league history to turn the trick. He joined former Brave Spahn (1947-63) and Plank (1901-16), who had runs of 17 years with at least 14 wins.

A four-time Cy Young Award winner, Maddux needs one more win to surpass the legendary hurler from baseball's dead-ball era. Maddux and Young are the only pitchers to win 15 games in 15 straight seasons.

"I get asked about it," Maddux said. "It's nice to be able to make your starts. It's nice to be healthy enough for 15 years to do it."

"It's contagious in this clubhouse," Braves outfielder Chipper Jones said. "Guys know eventually we're going to win the National League East. Keeping a streak alive is a big thing. Maddux is going to get 15. Guys are pulling for me and Javy (Lopez) to get 100 RBI. We're all pulling for each other."

This one was vintage Maddux. He threw 62 of 78 pitches for strikes, never throwing more than two balls to any batter or four in any inning. He did not allow a runner past first base until the eighth inning, when he departed.

Maddux gave up two runs - one earned - and eight hits, striking out five as he dropped his ERA below 4.00 for the first time this season. Ray King finished the eighth and Trey Hodges worked the ninth.

"He's pitching great," Braves third baseman Vinny Castilla said. "We're giving him some runs. The way he's pitched, he's pitched his whole career. Hopefully, we can get him a win with the next start."

Castilla and Rafael Furcal had four hits each and Jones and Gary Sheffield drove in three runs each for the Braves, who are on their way to their 12th straight division title.

Maddux is 11-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last 15 starts against the Pirates. He is 9-0 all-time against Pittsburgh in Atlanta.

"He had all his pitches working today," said Pirates outfielder Reggie Sanders , a former Brave. "Tonight, he was the Maddux of old that I remember. He hit his spots. He kept the ball down."

Pirates starter Jeff D'Amico (8-14) did not. In the first inning, he surrendered a three-run double to Jones, who scored on Sheffield's sacrifice fly.

"We got some big hits early," Jones said. "To throw a 4-spot on the board with Greg Maddux on the mound is good enough for the game. It's definitely a blow to the opposition."

The Braves added three more in the fourth. Sheffield doubled in a run and scored on an error by catcher Jason Kendall before Castilla stroked an RBI double.

D'Amico gave up seven runs, 10 hits and four walks in four innings as he fell to 0-4 all-time against Atlanta.

"I felt great in the pen, but I was pretty much out of it in the first inning," D'Amico said. "I got behind everybody. I made a good pitch, they hit it."

Sheffield singled home Maddux in the fifth and hit his 35th homer off Nelson Figueroa in the seventh.


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