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Mets Thwart Maddux' Bid For 20

For the fifth time in his career, Greg Maddux finished one victory shy of a 20-game season.

The Mets prevented Maddux from reaching the milestone for the third time in his career and ended the Atlanta ace's scoreless streak at 39 1-3 innings the longest in the majors in 10 years as New York's second stringers won 8-2 Thursday night.

"You always look back at the one or two things you might have done differently," said Maddux, who also won 19 games in 1989, 1995, 1997 and 1999. "A run here, a play here, or one less hanging slider. But I feel good about the way I pitched this year and I'm strong going into the postseason."

Maddux (19-9) had won five straight September starts and hadn't allowed a run since Sept. 2 before giving up three in the fourth inning. His streak was the longest since Baltimore's Gregg Olson pitched 41 straight scoreless innings in 1989-90.

"I was fortunate to go as long as I did," Maddux said.

The Mets beat the Braves in a series for the first time since winning three of four Sept. 4-7, 1998. But both wins came after Atlanta clinched the NL East with a victory in Tuesday's opener, and the final one came with many regulars on the bench.

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  • "We take it for what it is," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "We won two of three. We're playing to win and I'm glad we won."

    One night after clinching the wild card berth, Mets manager Bobby Valentine gave many of his regulars the night off. Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Mike Bordick and Derek Bell all sat as New York rested for its playoff opener Wednesday at St. Louis or San Francisco.

    Their backups filled in admirably. Todd Pratt had three hits and three RBIs, Kurt Abbott hit a two-run homer, and Lenny Harris and Matt Franco added RBIs.

    Bobby J. Jones (11-6) allowed two runs one earned and seven hits in eight innings, perhaps solidifying a spot as the fourth starter in the playoffs. Jones, who started the year 1-3, ended the season by winning seven of eight decisions.

    "It's a credit to Bobby Jones' inner strength and his belief in himself that he got over that hump," Valentine said.

    Maddux retired the first nine batters before a rare bout of wildness got him into trouble in the fourth. Timo Perez led off with a walk just the third off Maddux this month and went to third when Darryl Hamilton hit a hit-and-run chopper to the vacated hole at second.

    "I didn't hit it hard, but I hit it in the right place," Hamilton said.

    One out later, Maddux hit Jay Payton, loading the bases. Maddux fell behind 3-0 before Harris hit a chopper just over Maddux's head for an RBI infield single. Pratt followed with a two-run single to right.

    "It's unfortunate. It was just a couple of choppers," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "That's what happened. He threw great. He had good stuff."

    Perez worked a one-out walk off Maddux in the fourth and scored on Edgardo Alfonzo's RBI grounder that shortstop Rafael Furcal threw away for an error.

    Maddux allowed four runs, four hits and two walks in five innings.

    The Braves fell into a tie with St. Louis for the second-best record in the NL, a half-game behind San Francisco, which played later at Los Angeles. Atlanta could be forced to open the playoffs on the road.

    "I think home field means a lot," Brian Jordan said. "That's what we're playing for right now."


  • Mets LHP Bobby M. Jones relieve his namesake in the ninth inning.
  • Maddux went 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA against the Mets this season.
  • The Mets were 0-7-1 in series against Atlanta since their last win, not including a loss in last year's NLCS.
  • Braves 2B Keith Lockhart dropped a routine infield popup by Alfonzo in the seventh for a two-base error.
  • The Mets drew 52,134, their seventh sellout of the season.
  • Former commissioner Fay Vincent was in attendance.

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