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10/01/08 11:43 PM ET

Maddux earns a double save for LA

Veteran helps out Dodgers by giving Saito the night off

CHICAGO -- Greg Maddux picked up a save on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Not the kind of save that's reflected in the box score, but one that is registered with his teammates and manager.

Maddux tossed a scoreless ninth in the Dodgers' 7-2 win over the Cubs, and in the process, he saved Los Angeles manager Joe Torre from having to go to closer Takashi Saito, who was on the disabled list from July 18 to Sept. 13 with a partially torn ligament in his elbow.

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"It was huge," Torre said of Maddux's outing, "because we only used Saito once back-to-back since we brought him off the DL, so it just gave us an opportunity to save him."

Out of respect to Maddux, Torre had pitching coach Rick Honeycutt make sure that the future Hall of Famer would not mind pitching out of the bullpen. Maddux replied that he'd rather be in the bullpen than back home in Las Vegas.

Unlike most starters who pitch out of the bullpen, Maddux does not require a lot of time to get warmed up, and as Game 1 went along, Torre began to see a role for Maddux.

"We were banging it around and Greg tried to get a feel for when he was going to be used," Torre said. "We said it was very likely that we'll use him late in the game because I felt he's a starter, but it fits his mentality."

Torre had both Saito and Maddux warming up heading into the top of the ninth, and when catcher Russell Martin homered to lead off the inning to increase the lead from four runs to five, Torre decided to bring in Maddux rather than Saito.

"It was fun to get out there," Maddux said. "I'd rather pitch out of the 'pen than not pitch."

It's that kind of attitude that makes Maddux popular in the clubhouse.

"He's the best," Honeycutt said. "He's willing to do anything. He's a true pro who brings a lot of knowledge and experience that helps our young guys, helps all of our pitchers, helps me. His attitude is what you like about him. He's going to play an important role, more than an inning if need be."

On Wednesday, it was just one inning, but a save nonetheless.

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