SAN FRANCISCO -- He celebrated his latest milestone swirling cabernet around the bottom of a Styrofoam Gatorade cup. Then Greg Maddux was asked about Major League victory No. 329, which tied him with Steve Carlton for 10th on the all-time list, and he drew on two decades of experience to summarize how it happened. "Fourteen runs makes things a lot better," Maddux said with a smile after the Dodgers, who led by 10 runs after two innings, snapped the Giants' five-game win streak with a 14-7 victory Saturday night.
This was no masterpiece for Maddux, whose arrival at the trade deadline has received varying degrees of credit for his new club's turnaround. After retiring the final 22 Giants he faced Sunday, he mowed down the first 10 Giants batters Saturday night, something more than a carry-over perfect game. But the perfection ended when he allowed four consecutive hits in the fourth inning, including a three-run homer by Moises Alou. Maddux left after six innings with the lead trimmed to 10-6, having allowed three times as many runs as in his three previous starts, but still unbeaten as a Dodger. "Mo got me," Maddux said of Alou's home run. "I thought I pitched halfway decent when I was in trouble, but I didn't throw where I wanted to to Mo. He's a very good fastball hitter and that's kind of what I threw him and that's kind of why you shouldn't do it. I'm glad we had the lead we had when he got it." And it was quite a lead. The first three Dodgers hitters opened the game with singles and rookie Andre Ethier, who would go on to have four hits and three RBIs, tripled in a pair off Brad Hennessey, whose night was going to get a lot worse. In the second inning, the Dodgers chased Hennessey while scoring seven runs, with the first nine batters of the inning reaching base. Included was a two-run triple by former Giant Jeff Kent and a sacrifice bunt by Rafael Furcal that, by the time the Giants had finished throwing the ball around, scored two, including Furcal. The blowout allowed manager Grady Little to shorten the workday of veterans Kent and Kenny Lofton, who otherwise might have received Sunday off. Little conceded the strained oblique muscle that had made a mess of Kent's season is not 100 percent and probably won't be the rest of the season. It didn't help that he took a bad-hop bouncer right onto the tender oblique in the first inning. Ethier's consistent production has made him the Dodgers' clear-cut candidate for Rookie of the Year. He leads all rookies in average (.341), on-base percentage (.385) and slugging percentage (.548). The only time the Giants got him out came only after he missed hitting a home run by a few feet foul. "He can flat-out hit," said Maddux. "You sit on the bench and try to figure out how to face him, how to get him out. He can just hit." Ethier said just having Maddux on the club gives young players like him confidence. "You can't put into words what he does for us," said Ethier. "Everyone knows he's not a power pitcher. But he finds a way to get it done." Ethier and Maddux represent two key trades by general manager Ned Colletti, one last winter that rid the Dodgers of Milton Bradley, the other last month that moved expendable Gold Glove shortstop Cesar Izturis for the legendary Maddux. At the time of Ethier's acquisition, nobody expected the outfielder to make this kind of impact this soon. In truth, the deal was addition by subtraction as the organization felt it could not bring Bradley back after two seasons of controversy. While Ethier brought with him potential, Maddux brought a glittering resume somewhat tarnished by two-thirds of a season with the struggling Cubs. He seems to not only appreciate joining a contender, but understands why it is one. "This team is playing excellent defense," he said on a night when the offense had 17 hits, none of them a home run. "You play defense, you've got a chance in a lot of games. It's kind of a luxury. And they also can hit." Seven Dodgers drove in runs in this game, included J.D. Drew's three. But the postgame focus remained on the Maddux Effect. "This guy brings with him intangibles you may not see, but you just see the results," Little said about Maddux, who is 25-14 lifetime against the Giants. "It's just his presence. He draws instant respect for everything he's done in baseball. Young players are foolish not to pay attention."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.