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Maddux turns in another defense clinic

Maddux turns in another defense clinic

SAN DIEGO -- SAN DIEGO -- One night certainly does not make a Gold Glove winner, though it can be argued that Greg Maddux enhanced his chances of winning his Major League-record 18th Gold Glove based on his play Wednesday.

Maddux made several fine defensive plays in the Padres' 9-6 loss to the Astros at PETCO Park, including a diving stop of a ball hit to his left by Lance Berkman in the fifth inning that he smothered before getting up and throwing Berkman out at first base.

"That was a great play," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Terrific."

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Maddux had five assists in the game, including fielding a high chopper hit back to him in the first inning by Berkman that nearly became a double play when he threw to shortstop Khalil Greene. Greene's return throw to first wasn't quite in time to complete the twin-killing, though.

Maddux earned praise from just about everyone in the San Diego clubhouse, though none of the players or staff were especially surprised by what they saw.

"Greg takes such pride in everything he does and I think he knows that at this point in his career that he can't really afford to not make plays like that," said Padres catcher Michael Barrett, who played with Maddux previously in Chicago with the Cubs.

"We joke around about some of the infield hits I've had against him in my career and he still remembers that. He remembers guys and he remembers what tendencies hitters have and what to be ready for. He's always prepared. He's always ready to field his position."

The play on Berkman's ball in the fifth inning was, as most agreed Thursday, the best of the bunch, perhaps because as a right-handed pitcher, Maddux naturally falls off of the mound to the left, meaning he really had to extend to dive for the ball that rolled to his immediate right.

Not that Maddux seemed especially impressed afterward.

"Just luck," he deadpanned. "That's about the only time a pitcher can dive on a ball like that. Usually, you don't want to leave your feet. I have had that play a couple of times before. It looks tougher than it is."

Barrett wasn't buying that.

"I think what was so amazing about that play is that he knows how much time he has," Barrett said. "Things move so slow to him that he never sped up. On that play, it was a bang-bang play, but the whole time it was like he knew how much time he had and he made a perfect throw. A lot of guys would get up, rush and throw the ball away. He was very conscious of how much time he had."

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

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