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Maddux rebounds after rough start
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06/11/2002 02:04 am ET 
Maddux rebounds after rough start
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com

Chipper Jones is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a two-run homer to tie the Monday's game in the sixth. (AP Photo/Eric Miller)
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Greg Maddux starts a game, the rest of the Atlanta Braves normally spend most of their postgame rap sessions with the media talking about another successful performance.

After Monday's 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins in 15 innings the Atlanta clubhouse had a bit of a "Bizzaro World" feeling as the Maddux spent time apologizing for his performance.

In the opening frame, Maddux allowed five consecutive singles before recording his first out. By the time the inning was over, Minnesota had sent nine men to the plate en route to a five-run inning.

"I think if I would have done better in the first inning things would have gone a little differently," Maddux said. "I have to tip my hat to my teammates. I put them in the hole."

However it wasn't a hole that they couldn't escape.

The Braves stormed back with three runs in the fifth and Chipper Jones belted a two-run homer, his first since May 9, to tie the game at 5-5 in the sixth.

"To battle back the way they did after that shows a lot of character and I think that's a reason we've been good for so long," Maddux said.

While Maddux complimented the character of his offense, he showed as much determination as anyone on the field. After battling through the five-run first, Maddux allowed just four more hits and held the Twins scoreless over the next six innings.

"I located the ball just a little bit better, got the ball down a little bit better and they hit it at people," Maddux said. "I mean there's always somebody up next and you've got to get ready to try to get them out. Unfortunately, I had to do that too many times in the first inning."

Just as Maddux rolled through the rest of his outing, so did the Braves bullpen.

Mike Remlinger, Chris Hammond, Kevin Gryboski, Darren Holmes and Kerry Lightenberg combined to shut the Twins out for seven more innings before Cristian Guzman followed Tom Prince's infield single by stroking a game-winning, two-out RBI double off the right-field baggie.

"You don't ever want to lose," said Lightenberg, who fell to 0-3 with the loss. "Epecially as well as we played and with a chance to win the game. The way it ended kind of sucked. Just one pitch. I don't even know if it was a bad pitch .It was just a pitch that got hit. With the runner moving it was gonna be a bang-bang play."

It looked like the Braves might have a chance to catch Prince at the plate as right fielder Gary Sheffield made a strong throw towards the plate, but first baseman Wes Helms cut the throw before making a high and late relay to home.

"I thought [the throw] was on line," Lightenberg said. "It was close. I couldn't really tell because I was running, but even when Wes cut it if he would have made a low throw it would have been close."

Braves skipper Bobby Cox, who was ejected for arguing with first base-umpire Mike Fichter in the eighth, didn't think the game should have even got to that point.

The Braves put a runner at second base in the eighth, 10th, and 14th frames, but their best chance came in the 11th when Chipper Jones reached third base with just one out. Unfortunately for the Atlanta faithful, Vinny Castilla and Helms stranded Jones with back-to-back ground outs.

"We had all kinds of chances to win this game," Cox said. "It seemed like we had runners in scoring position almost every inning. We just couldn't get the big hit tonight."

Despite seeing their winning streak come to a disappointing end after six games, the Braves still feel that they showed something in the loss.

"I didn't think any of us quit after the first inning," Maddux said. "If you're going to beat us it's not going to be easy. I was glad to see the way everybody played. I just wish I could have done a little bit better for them."

Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League baseball or its clubs.



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