Maddux snaps winless streak
With future uncertain, veteran gets first victory in 15 starts
SAN DIEGO -- It was near the end of his long, slow walk to the dugout Monday when Greg Maddux was hailed by a rousing round of cheers before he disappeared for good into the dugout.
Before Maddux reached the top step he did something un-Madduxlike, doffing his cap, acknowledging the cheers from a crowd of 29,302 who saw him snap a career-high 14 consecutive starts without a victory.
It's not something Maddux usually does, recognizing the crowd, which, naturally, only raised some eyebrows if this start might be his last as a Padre -- including some of them inside his own dugout.
"I hope that was a just-in-case, I hope he doesn't know anything," Padres pitcher Jake Peavy said. "As a selfish teammate, I hate to see him leave. Not for me, but for what he has meant as a teammate."
Maddux pitched into the sixth inning on Monday as the Padres defeated Arizona, 8-5, at PETCO Park, winning for the first time since May 10. The 42-year-old, rumored to be moved before the July 31 Trade Deadline, hadn't gone that long without a victory in his entire career.
"Ball starts eight inches off the plate and comes back almost down the middle," Arizona left fielder Conor Jackson said. "The pitch he threw me 3-2, God I thought it was way out and it came right back down the middle. He's got 350 wins for a reason."
No, career victory No. 351 took some time. But where will victory No. 352 come? With the Padres (42-65), who have won their last four games, or with a West Coast team like, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could be interested in his services?
San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said by e-mail late Monday that the team is "not close" to a deal involving Maddux. As for doffing his cap when he left the game, Maddux said the possibility he could be dealt had something to do with it.
"I don't know what's going to happen in the next couple days," said Maddux, who allowed four runs on nine hits in five-plus innings.
"But I just wanted the people here to know that I appreciate it. That's all it was. I don't know what's going to happen. I know I love playing here. I want to do what's best for the organization and I want to not leave as well."
If Maddux were to be dealt before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, he would be the third player the Padres have moved in the past two weeks -- Randy Wolf to Houston, Tony Clark to Arizona -- as management has said it is moving ahead with an eye on the future.
One of those players the Padres figure to take a look at over the final two months of the regular season is 24-year-old catcher Nick Hundley, who, had Michael Barrett not been injured earlier this month, would still be playing at Triple-A Portland.
Hundley -- who was hitting .232 at the time of his promotion from Portland on July 4 -- hit a three-run home run off the façade of the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building down the left-field line in a six-run third inning.
For Hundley, it was his seventh hit in his last 14 at-bats and his second Major League home run in as many days.
"I'm starting to get a little more comfortable. I've really been working with [hitting coach] Wally [Joyner]. He's been great," Hundley said. "We've been working on the mechanics of my swing and trying to get into a nice little comfort zone and rhythm. I think I've found a routine that I like to do daily, so that's probably the biggest thing."
Hundley's home run off Arizona pitcher Micah Owings (6-9) was the big blow in San Diego's six-run third, an inning that started innocently enough when Owings got two quick outs, getting Scott Hairston on a foul popup and Edgar Gonzalez on a fly ball.
But Owings walked the next batter, Brian Giles, before allowing three consecutive hits, including a two-run single to Kevin Kouzmanoff. Jody Gerut followed with a double to score another run. Two batters later, Hundley jumped on a hanging slider in, driving it deep.
The bullpen mostly held down the lead after Maddux left, though reliever Bryan Corey allowed a run in the top of the ninth inning before Trevor Hoffman got the last two outs for his 22nd save of the season.
It was enough to get Maddux (4-8) a victory. As for the future, Maddux wouldn't say much, but only because he's just as unsure as everyone else of what might happen on or possibly before Thursday.
"I don't know what's going on. I really don't. I hope I stay," Maddux said. "You'd rather stay if you're welcome. I like it here. The losing part stinks, but baseball is still baseball and the games are still great. It's still fun to come to the park every day."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.