Maddux shows why he's coming back

When the Miller Park crowd of 31,137 fans sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the seventh inning Thursday, "Cubbies" rang out twice as loud as "Brewers" in the line about rooting for the home team.

But the pitching of Greg Maddux, a quiet man, was twice as loud as the voices of his ecstatic fans.

His four-hit, 3-0 victory over the Brewers was vintage Maddux. He not only kept alive his bid of winning 15 or more games for the 18th straight year, but he cleared up the question of whether he will return to the Cubs next year.

"I never said I wasn't coming back," the Hall of Fame-bound starter said.

What about saying you would go home to decide after the season?

"I'll go home and decide … to come back," Maddux said. "I was under the impression I had signed a three-year contract. I want to be back. I expect to be back. I will be back."

Maddux (13-13) will pitch next week against the Pirates and at Houston in the final series of the year.

Maddux pitched Thursday as he did when he won four Cy Young Awards. He needed only 78 pitches, 55 of them strikes, in the eight innings he worked. He struck out four and walked none. He retired the leadoff man every inning. He faced 26 batters, only two over the minimum.

Twenty of the 24 outs Maddux registered were made on 12 grounders, two popups, four strikeouts and the line shot of Damian Miller's he speared to start a double play that snuffed out the Brewers' only scoring threat in the fifth.

"I just got lucky," Maddux said of the liner. "It was on my glove side."

It was more than luck. One of the reasons Maddux has won 14 Gold Gloves is that, unlike many pitchers, he finishes his delivery in position to field.

Does this help protect Maddux from the line drives that have injured other pitchers?

"I would hope so," Maddux said. "I see the ball better."

Maddux said pitching well enough to give the Cubs chances to win will mean more to him than the record in his last two starts.

"I'd like to win two to get above .500," Maddux said. "I'd like to do it the right way."

Wednesday night's sloppy 7-6 Milwaukee victory took 3 hours 36 minutes, the Cubs' longest nine-inning game of the season. Maddux's classic took just 2:19. The difference?

"Throwing strikes," Maddux said. "Strikes speed up games."

Michael Barrett and Neifi Perez provided all the offense Maddux needed.

Their doubles staked the Cubs to a 1-0 lead in the second. They increased the spread to 3-0 with two runs in the fifth.