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He was calm amid the confusion, though he admitted he didn't know what was going on.
"I don't know what was happening on the bases, but it was kind of fun to watch," Greg Maddux said.
And Madduxcool and collected on a scorching day at Wrigley Fieldwas "kind of fun" to watch too. He gave up only one run in six masterful innings of a madcap 4-2 victory over the Cardinals.
How do you even start to explain the hijinks that hijacked fundamental baseball that, including a broken play that the Cubs turned into their first steal of home plate since 2001?
Here's an attempt:
In just the first 2½ innings Saturday, the Cubs pulled the old 9-6-1 double play, had a runner picked off second base, a hit batter who wasn't, a double steal on a pickoff, a runner scoring after running through a stop sign and both managers arguing their cases with umpires.
"We were laughing about it," reliever Ryan Dempster said. "We were joking that we had never seen something go so wrong and turn out so good."
Let's get right to the Cubs' second inning, which began with them behind 1-0. With one out, an Anthony Reyes pitch hit John Mabry on the foot but was called a ball over manager Dusty Baker's protests. Mabry walked anyway, and reached second on an Angel Pagan single.
That's when it started getting goofy.
Ronny Cedeno singled, but coach Chris Speier held up Mabry at third. Pagan didn't see the stop sign and chugged along toward third, thinking Mabry was headed home. The outfield throw conceded Mabry's run, even though he wasn't running. And it gets goofier.
Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen fielded the ball, but not in time to tag Pagan. Noticing Rolen wasn't paying any attention and was looking the other way, Mabry sprinted toward home and slid in without a play.
OK, Pagan is now at third and Cedeno at first. Then Reyes catches Cedeno off base. During the rundown, Pagan heads for home and makes it for his first career stolen base. And Cedeno winds up safe at second and later gets thrown at out home plate on Juan Pierre's single.
"That was a 'Twilight Zone' inning," Baker said. "I've never seen anything like that before. That's not how you draw it up, but we'll take it."
Maddux brought some sanity back to the situation by facing the minimum number of batters from the second through sixth innings, albeit with one strange double play. He walked none and struck out six, giving him 1,305 as a Cub, the franchise's fourth best.
"He was masterful," Baker said.
"Vintage Greg Maddux," catcher Michael Barrett said.
Maddux left after yielding a leadoff double in the seventh, giving way to Michael Wuertz, who overpowered the next three hitters. Scott Eyre pitched the eighth and Dempster a shaky ninth for his 20th save, third in three days and eighth straight.
As he was leaving, Maddux tipped his cap to the 41,302 standing fans, admitting he didn't know what would happen before Monday's trade deadline.
"I don't think any player wants to leave Chicago," said Maddux, who could be dealt to a contender. "But if [the Cubs] get the right players [in trade], who am I to say no?"
The loss left the first-place Cardinals 0-6 at Wrigley Field this season. And the Cubs went through an entire game without striking out for the first time since May 21, 2002.
"There's not an answer to everything in sports," Baker said. "If there was, it would be too easy."