CHICAGO (AP) – From his high school coach in Las Vegas Greg Maddux learned how to throw his fastball to certain spots and use it to set up his other pitches. From Dick Pole, one of his early coaches in the minors and with the Chicago Cubs, he got more advice.

“I remember when Dick Pole told me one day, “Why don’t you stop trying to strike guys out? Just try to get them out, and you’ll probably strike out just as many guys, if not more,”‘ Maddux said. “He was right. I’ve always tried with two strikes just to make a pitch and get the guy out. You get a lot of strikeouts just on accident.”

Many of Maddux’s 3,001 strikeouts were hardly by accident. They came from an assortment of pitches with varying angles, speeds and locations that served to fool batters, even if they didn’t overpower them.

Maddux became the 13th pitcher to get 3,000 strikeouts when he fanned San Francisco’s Omar Vizquel in the third inning Tuesday night. He became just the ninth big league pitcher to have both 3,000 strikeouts and 300 wins, joining Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Walter Johnson and Phil Niekro.

For Maddux, known for his shoulder shrugs and no big deal approach, the reaction to his 3,000th was “pretty cool.”

“Not that many guys have done it,” he said. The achievement was diminished by the Cubs’ 3-2 loss in 11 innings, in which Maddux did not figure in the decision.

Maddux got his 300th win on the road last August against the Giants but his latest milestone came at Wrigley Field, where the crowd was up and roaring every time he got two strikes on a hitter. They sat through an almost three-hour rain delay to be part of history.

“You hear it. Believe me. You hear it,” said Maddux, who came out for a curtain call and waved his cap.

Maddux has always been a student of his game.

“He’s very humble externally and very confident internally. And very prepared,” Cubs manger Dusty Baker said. “He knows himself, he knows the opposition. He has a pretty good idea. He knows the umpires. Everything that goes into the equation of getting people out and winning he studies. This guy studies.”

Maddux, who once set an NL record for most consecutive innings without a walk (72 1-3), has never been labeled a strikeout pitcher. He used to throw harder than he does now at age 39 when most of his pitches are the mid to high 80 mph range.

“Most people are probably surprised, including myself, because you don’t really think of him a strikeout pitcher. But he struck out a lot of people,” Baker said.

Maddux has just one season of 200 strikeouts but four others in the 190s during a career that began in 1987.

With an 8-7 record and just one win in his last six starts, the four-time Cy Young Award winner will need to do some work in the final two months to extend another of his remarkable streaks. He’s won at least 15 games in 17 straight seasons.

AP-ES-07-27-05 1622EDT


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