SAN DIEGO—Greg Maddux ambled into the Cubs' dugout late Friday afternoon, looked up at the Jumbotron and watched a highlight of a wild Padres celebration at the former Jack Murphy Stadium.
"Nineteen-eighty-four?" Maddux asked.
World Series only to lose three straight to San Diego in the National League Championship Series.
Maddux was in his first year in the Cubs organization in '84 at age 18, pitching for Pikeville, a Rookie League team. Two decades later he was starting in the Cubs' first game at Petco Park in his second go-around with the team.
Time flies and ballparks change, but Maddux remains Maddux, no matter the age or the ballpark.
Maddux pitched eight strong innings Friday night in the Cubs' 6-1 victory over the Padres, earning his 292nd career victory and posting his 2,800th career strikeout.
"I made some good pitches and got away with some," Maddux said.
The Cubs pulled within one game of NL Central-leading Houston and beat former Cub Ismael Valdez (3-2).
Maddux (3-3) ranks second in the majors to Curt Schilling in throwing first-pitch strikes, and he was at it again Friday. He cruised through the Padres' lineup, allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. He threw only 88 pitches, including 64 for strikes, making it look easy.
"It's simple when you have that kind of control," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Greg is a humble man. He pitches the same way he is as a person. It's not that simple, but he studies everybody and he knows what he needs to do."
The Cubs handed Maddux a 2-1 lead early on leadoff home runs by Corey Patterson in the third inning and Sammy Sosa in the fourth. Sosa tied Mike Schmidt for ninth place on the all-time home run list with No. 548, his ninth of the season.
"It's an honor, no question, to have a chance to tie one of the greatest players, and greatest third basemen, in baseball," Sosa said. "I still have a way to go. I'm going to continue to play great, help the ballclub win some games. Right now I don't have my mind on the long ball. Right now my mind is to come here every day and help the ballclub somehow."
San Diego management decided this weekend would be as good a time as any to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first National League pennant, giving out souvenir "Cub-Buster" pins to fans and wearing yellow-and-brown throwback uniforms from the era.
Yet the Cubs were in no mood for an "I Love the '80s" weekend.
Cubs management politely declined the Padres' request that they wear their 1984 road uniforms, the blue jerseys with the circular Cubs patch on the front and white pants with elastic waistbands.
No one felt the need to remind TV viewers back home of what happened on one crazy weekend in October 1984, especially when some are still trying to recover from what happened in October 2003.
Despite a handful of outstanding defensive plays by Padres shortstop Khalil Greene, the Cubs kept persevering against Valdez, taking a 3-1 lead on Ramon Martinez's RBI single in the eighth.
Jose Macias' three-run triple in the ninth off reliever Eddie Oropesa, his second triple of the night, made it 6-1.
Petco Park is reportedly a pitcher-friendly place, but balls into the gaps can become easy triples for players with speed. Sluggers have to provide all the power on their own, as Patterson did with his center-field homer.