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04/07/08 9:58 PM ET
Patient Maddux overcomes early blip
Padres starter cruises after first; Gonzalez notches four hits
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a vexing first inning for Greg Maddux on Monday, as career victory No. 348 appeared no closer to reality than ever after allowing one run on two hits and two walks all while pursuing three measly outs. But as Maddux made his way to the visiting dugout at AT&T Park after that first inning, he didn't fling his glove in disgust or let loose with a steady stream of obscenities for everyone to hear. He simply got better, which is why, in large part, the Padres were able to open a six-game road trip with an 8-4 victory over the Giants, thus spoiling the home opener for a sellout crowd of 42,861. The Padres' offense, which came up with eight runs on 13 hits, four by Adrian Gonzalez, certainly played a role in the victory, though it was Maddux (1-0) who provided a calming effect to the game, retiring 19 of the last 20 hitters he faced. "I had no groove to find," Maddux told a reporter after being asked about the way that he settled down. "Just a shaky first. Maybe I was overdoing it a little bit. I tried to slow it down." Whatever it was, it certainly worked well for the Padres (5-3), who are in a stretch of 15 consecutive games against their National League West brethren. As for Maddux, who struck out five and walked just those two batters in the first over seven innings, it was, if nothing else, a lesson in humility and patience, two things that he has encountered often during a career that began in 1986. "Early in the game, uncharacteristic," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He was a little command-shy, which is not like Greg. The middle part of the game, he regrouped and started making his pitches. "Pitchers will tell you that 34 starts, how often do they feel great every start? Three hits, one run through seven innings? It shows the competitor. Mentally, he doesn't cave in if he doesn't feel good or if he's a little off. Some guys don't fight through that. He does." Maddux retired Jose Castillo on a ground ball to end the first inning and then proceeded to mow through the Giants (1-6) in methodical fashion, though that's not entirely all too surprising considering he's 7-1 with a 2.52 ERA in starts at AT&T Park. Maddux retired the Giants in order in the second and third innings. In the fourth inning, he allowed a hit to Castillo on a do-or-die play by a hard-charging Khalil Greene as the ball snuck under his glove. He then retired the next 12 batters he faced before giving way to reliever Cla Meredith in the eighth inning. All told, Maddux got 14 ground-ball outs and didn't get a fly-ball out until the seventh inning. "He gets easy outs, quick outs and keeps us in the game," Gonzalez said after the game. San Francisco starting pitcher Matt Cain (0-1) didn't have many easy outs, not after he needed 96 pitches to get 13 outs. Control was an issue for Cain, as he walked five and allowed seven hits and four earned runs. After Tadahito Iguchi doubled with one out in the first inning, Gonzalez hit his second home run of the season the other way to left-center field for a 2-1 lead. "We wanted to work the count deep so we could get him out of the game early. He was leaving his off-speed stuff up," Gonzalez said of Cain. Gonzalez was in the middle of a big inning in the third as Cain allowed four hits to start the inning. Jim Edmonds had an RBI single in the inning and Greene knocked in another run with a sacrifice fly. A third run came in when Hairston reached on an error. "It's always good to get a few runs early," Hairston said. "We had a lot of good at-bats early on." The only real downer for the Padres was the loss of catcher Michael Barrett, who left the game with a strained right elbow. Barrett will have an MRI on Tuesday in San Diego to determine the severity of the injury. Regardless of what is discovered about Barrett's elbow, he's headed to the disabled list Tuesday as Colt Morton will be promoted from Double-A San Antonio.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.