Greg Maddux silences Cubs batsSAN DIEGO – Greg Maddux looked like the ace of old, and Bob Brenly was spared of shaving the facial hair he has kept the majority of his adult life.

 After being pounded for 11 hits and 4 runs in just 4.1 innings in his May 15 outing at Wrigley Field, Maddux started Wednesday’s game with stuff good enough for a no-hitter. And rather than giving up 11 hits in four innings, the former Chicago Cub didn’t allow a base runner until the top of the fourth when Alfonso Soriano singled to left field.

 “Doggie threw the ball good and we never could get anything going, and that made a lot of quick outs,” Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. “He kept his pitch count down, and that’s the last thing you want when he’s on the mound. He’s not going to beat himself. He’s going to make you beat him. He threw strikes tonight, and we hit a ton of ground balls and that’s what he tries to do.”

 Maddux and the Padres limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits after the Northsiders plated 16 runs in the first two games of the series, proving once again that despite a powerful offense, the Cubs are going to need to find more consistency if they want to make a serious run at a 2008 World Series title. All it takes is a couple bad innings in the playoffs to disrupt an otherwise explosive offense.

The 2003 playoffs is a perfect example of how one unfortunate play can turn the tide of a game. Just imagine if Moises Alou had caught the foul ball instead of being distracted by a certain Cubs fan. Or, if he had not even come close at all. The Cubs wouldn’t have had a reason to complain or get down on themselves. Maybe Prior would have finished out the inning and Chicago, rather than Florida, would have gone onto the World Series to face the Yankees.

It’s all about confidence and consistency. And while the Cubs might have that swagger deserving of a trip deep into the playoffs, if they continue to score 15 runs one game only to follow it up with one or two the next night, it is going to eventually catch up with them. They will need to either find a way to remedy their inconsistencies, or hope that Sprint launches a new Major League Baseball plan that allows teams to rollover their runs from game to game.

The Cubs loss ended a 9-game winning streak and kept Bob Brenly from shaving his mustache and Len Kasper from attempting to grow one of his own. Cubs fan or not, it would have been interesting to see Chicago win its 10th straight for the mere amusement of seeing Brenly without his upper lip locks.

 

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