Cubs' slide reaches seven in sweep

Cubs' slide reaches seven in sweep

SAN DIEGO -- After being perfect in April, Greg Maddux is 0-for-May.

Khalil Greene hit a solo homer and Mike Cameron drove in three runs to power the San Diego Padres to an 8-3 victory Monday night over Maddux and the Chicago Cubs, who lost their seventh straight.

Maddux (5-2) dropped his second in a row after winning his first five April starts. The 40-year-old right-hander remains at 15th on the all-time list with 323 wins. Next up: Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton at 324.

Maddux gave up seven runs on nine hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since June 15, when he went 3 2/3 innings against Florida. In his last two starts, Maddux has served up 12 runs on 19 hits over 8 2/3 innings. In his five April starts, when he won National League Pitcher of the Month, he was charged with five runs over 33 1/3 innings.

What happened?

"I didn't pitch good, I didn't locate well," Maddux said. "I threw too many balls over the middle of the plate. When you miss, you'd like to miss off the plate and not down the middle. I didn't do that."

In 646 career starts, Maddux has lasted 3 2/3 innings or less 30 times. He's given up seven or more earned runs 21 times in his career.

"His location was off tonight," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who was optimistic despite the loss. "We got beat by a hot team. To me the worst is over. Guys are starting to hit the ball good. We don't have much to show for it, but we're having good at-bats. We have to go to San Francisco and get it going. It's simple."

The game did not start well. Maddux walked Dave Roberts, who stole second and scored on Cameron's single. Cameron then tallied on Brian Giles' single to go ahead 2-0. In the Padres' third, Roberts tripled with one out and scored two batters later on Mike Piazza's single.

Aramis Ramirez picked up his third RBI in the last three games when he hit a sacrifice fly in the Cubs' fourth to drive in Todd Walker, who had walked.

But Greene answered one out into the Padres' fourth with his sixth homer and a 4-1 lead. Cameron added a two-run double and then scored on Giles' double. Maddux then departed.

"I feel good, I feel healthy," Maddux said. "I just didn't pitch good. I threw some pitches over the plate and they whacked them. There's no secret code or anything, it's just kind of it. I threw it down the middle and they whacked it."

Jacque Jones helped give Baker some hope when he led off the Chicago seventh with his fifth home run, and Ronny Cedeno hit an RBI triple to chase starter Chris Young (3-2).

The Padres are perfect in May, having won nine in a row. It's the first time they've ever swept a four-game series against the Cubs, and the first time the Cubs have been swept in four since Atlanta did so last July.

"You can see it coming," Baker said of his team. "You know you're better than this. We're in a bad streak in a bad way. No matter what we tried, it didn't work, and everything they tried worked. I'm very optimistic. I'm more optimistic now than when we came here.

"Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it," Baker said. "You've got to ride it out. It's simple."

The seven-game skid is their longest since they dropped eight in a row Aug. 3-10, 2005. How can they get out of this funk?

"For me, it's getting focused on the little things and putting together good at-bats," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said. "In streaks like this, everybody tries to be perfect.

"We have to focus on what we have to do individually to help the team and worry less about the results," he said.

Maddux's take on the mess?

"You start by pitching good," he said. "You kind of need to step it up a notch and I didn't do it. The easiest way to win a game is to shut the other team down. I didn't do it. You'd like to come in and control the first five, six innings at least and see what happens from there, and I never gave us that chance."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.