CINCINNATI—Pull out a vintage album from your old record collection, and chances are there may be a scratch or two on the vinyl after all these years.
Pull out a vintage pitcher from the Cubs past, and it's unlikely he'll look exactly the same as the wrinkle-free player from the early '90s.
While Greg Maddux allowed only four hits in the first outing of his second go-around with the Cubs, two of them traveled a combined 841 feet, vaulting Cincinnati to a 3-1 victory before 30,201 at Great American Ball Park.
Despite the lack of a storybook finish, Maddux managed to walk away with a smile.
"I actually had a good time tonight," Maddux said. "It would've been better if we'd won. But to take five, six months off and have a chance to pitch again "
Shaking off the dust, Maddux made his first regular-season start in a Cubs jersey since Sept. 30, 1992, allowing three runs in six innings. But prodigious home-run pitches to Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. spoiled his "re-debut," tying the season-opening series at a game apiece.
Manager Dusty Baker was pleased with the performance, if not the outcome.
"Ordinarily, three runs aren't going to be enough to beat us," Baker said.
But it was enough Wednesday, as the Cubs offense kept hitting the snooze button when it was time to wake up. Paul Wilson threw seven shutout innings, avenging a notorious incident from the 2003 season. Wilson was the player with whom Kyle Farnsworth fought last June in Cincinnati, coming out on the short end when Farnsworth slammed him to the ground like a linebacker.
When his hometown of Alpharetta, Ga., honored him with Kyle Farnsworth Day over the winter, the Cubs reliever gave the mayor a T-shirt featuring a photo of the brawl with the heading, "Welcome to Chicago." Wilson had the final word on Wednesday, allowing no Cubs runner past second base.
Derrek Lee's opposite-field homer off Danny Graves with two outs in the ninth provided the Cubs with their only run.
"I wish it would've been under better circumstances," Lee said.
Maddux isn't the first prominent pitcher to return to the Cubs after years wearing someone else's uniform. Ferguson Jenkins and Ken Holtzman, among others, came back for second helpings toward the ends of their careers with varying degrees of success.
But no one has returned with the kind of pressure Maddux faces, especially with Mark Prior on the disabled list until mid-May or longer. Maddux was typically low-key about the whole thing.
"I was very concerned with facing the Reds' lineup," Maddux said. "More so than who I was pitching for."
Maddux got off to a slow start with Atlanta last year, posting a 5.13 earned-run average in the first month and serving up seven home runs in 401/3 innings. He endured a rare bout of wildness in the first inning Wednesday, hitting D'Angelo Jimenez with his first pitch and then hitting Griffey two batters later.
The probability of that happening was microscopic entering the night. In fact, in 3,968 career innings, Maddux never had plunked two batters in the same inning.
"I guess if you pitch long enough, it'll happen," Maddux said.
While Maddux managed to escape the inning unharmed, Dunn cranked a 415-foot home run deep into the right-field bleachers in the second and Griffey added a 426-foot, two-run shot to center in the third. Without any semblance of an offense to support him, Maddux was doomed after Griffey's blast.
"Sometimes you have to win 1-0, 2-1," he said. "I didn't do that."