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Baseball Playoffs | San Diego vs. Atlanta / Notes

Maddux's Wild Story Isn't a Hit With Leyritz

October 11, 1998|ROSS NEWHAN

Jim Leyritz had this to say about Greg Maddux: "I've never had a chance to meet him or talk to him, and I don't want to."

Well, the San Diego catcher and Atlanta pitcher did exchange words Saturday in Game 3 of the National League's championship series, but they did it from their respective clubhouses after the 4-1 Padre victory in which Maddux hit Leyritz with a pitch after Leyritz, suspecting that Maddux might be wetting the ball, asked umpire Tom Hallion to check it.

Leyritz was preparing to bat in the fourth inning after Wally Joyner had flied to left for the second out.

The ball was returned to Maddux, and Leyritz said, "I saw him go to his hat, his forehead and his mouth, and that's when I asked the umpire to check it out. He's such a great pitcher that I don't want to give him any edge."

Hallion inspected the ball and returned it to Maddux, who then shook off catcher Eddie Perez three times before throwing a fastball that hit Leyritz on his left shoulder. Leyritz glared at Maddux and walked slowly to first.

Did he think it intentional?

"I really don't know," he said, "but a guy with that kind of control . . . well, the circumstances raise the question, at least."

Said Maddux, emphatically: "I'm telling you I wasn't trying to hit him. I was just coming in and it just got away from me. That's it. That's all there was to it. I don't care what he says."

Leyritz didn't seem to care what Maddux said either.

"If that's the truth, fine," he said of the Maddux version, "but usually when a pitch gets away from a pitcher with that kind of control it's low and outside not high and inside, and everybody on our team felt the same way ."

Leyritz suspected the incident may have "fired the Padres up a bit." They trailed, 1-0, at the time but went ahead with two runs in the fifth. A bigger factor, however, may have been an incident in the third inning when Leyritz, who has delivered a series of big hits in the postseason, absorbed one. The Braves already had a run in when Walt Weiss tried to score from second on a single by Chipper Jones. Left fielder John Vander Wal delivered a perfect throw on the fly, and Leyritz, although flattened by Weiss, held the ball for the third out.

*

Atlanta outfielder Gerald Williams set an NLCS record by striking out four times. Three San Diego pitchers did the honors.

Today's Pitchers

BRAVES' DENNY NEAGLE (16-11, 3.55) vs. PADRES' JOEY HAMILTON (13-13, 4.25)

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, 4:45 p.m.

TV--Channel 11

* Update--Neagle, who hasn't pitched since the next-to-last game of the regular season, is the one Atlanta starter who has controlled Tony Gwynn during his career. Gwynn is five for 30 against Neagle (.167). Hamilton hasn't started since the last game of the regular season but did pitch in relief twice during the division series. "I was disappointed, but there was no anger, no frustration," Hamilton said of the absence of a starting assignment again Houston. "I was going to try to do whatever I can to help the team win. It's just a nice feeling to be here."

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