SAN FRANCISCO -- Greg Maddux has always been a man of little fanfare, so that's exactly how he handled his 300th win -- with a quiet step into history.
Maddux never returned to the field after the final out was made. Fans hollered as he worked his way down the hallway to a postgame interview, and Maddux practically pursed his lips to keep from reacting. It took a near mugging by a bunch of teammates at his locker to finally make him smile.
"It's pretty special," he said. "I like to look ahead. I've never really looked back. When I'm done playing, I'll look back. I'm sure I'll pat myself on the back then."
Maddux calmly overcame a shaky start to become the 22d major league pitcher to reach 300 victories, leading the Chicago Cubs over the San Francisco Giants, 8-4, yesterday.
Maddux relied on guts, guile, and his bullpen to win his 300th game because he never quite found the pinpoint control that has defined his stellar career.
"Obviously, to win 300 games, you've got to have a lot of help. I've played on a lot of good teams, and a lot of times, you're only as good as the guys behind you," Maddux said.
He is the first National Leaguer to accomplish the feat since Philadelphia's Steve Carlton in 1983. Maddux needed just two tries -- he got a no-decision in his first chance last Sunday against the Phillies.
Maddux left in the sixth with a 6-3 lead, no outs, and two runners on, bumping fists with manager Dusty Baker. But Maddux didn't acknowledge the cheering, sellout crowd as he headed into the dugout and on to the clubhouse to wait out his fate after throwing 82 pitches. The Cubs' relievers came through. Jon Leicester and Kent Mercker escaped the jam with Chicago ahead, 6-4. Mercker retired Ray Durham on a popup to end the sixth inning. Kyle Farnsworth got Dustan Mohr to ground out with the bases loaded in the eighth, and LaTroy Hawkins secured the win with a scoreless ninth.
After the final out, Cubs fans held up a large "W" banner, and a graphic recognizing Maddux's achievement was shown on the center-field scoreboard. But Maddux never came back onto the field. He didn't feel it would be right to hold a huge celebration in somebody else's ballpark -- a sign of the humility his teammates and coaches have come to expect.
"It was fitting. Greg meant what he says. He's a sincere man," Baker said. "He pitched well enough to win. You don't win 300 games with your best stuff all the time."