Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Garza breaks even, looks for bigger things in '12

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He didn't get the 200 he wanted. But Matt Garza will settle for .500.

The Cubs' best pitcher all season long - and by far their hardest-luck pitcher - pitched another seven strong innings to beat the San Diego Padres 6-2 late Tuesday night to earn his fourth straight victory and finish his first season as a Cub 10-10.

``I don't consider him a .500 pitcher,'' manager Mike Quade said of his most consistent pitcher in 2011. ``I guess the numbers bear him out on that. His ERA and quality starts and all of it - that's all you can do is go out and keep your club in the game.

``For as tough a season as it's been at times, where the hell would be have been without him?''

Garza, who finishes the season with a 3.32 ERA and 20 quality starts, went 6-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts since the All-Star break - with the Cubs winning eight of his last nine, including his final six.

``It is what it is,'' said Garza, who was disappointed he fell two innings short of his goal of 200 (a result of a two-week DL stint two months into the season). ``I'm happy the way I ended the season. I'm not happy that we're not playing in October, but I'll just take what I did and try to keep rolling in the off-season and get ready for next season.

``I'm hoping to make it better. I'm going to try to improve - another year under my belt, a couple more lessons learned. For me, I think the sky's the limit and I'm just going to keep trying to build until I get there.''

It took a late rally for the Cubs and Garza to get his 10th win - putting him at .500 for the first time this season.

Alfonso Soriano's three-run homer in the eighth gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead - and gave Soriano 26 homers and 88 RBI (a personal best in his five years with the Cubs).

They added two more in the ninth on Blake DeWitt's pinch-hit single.

The Cubs enter the final game of the season Wednesday night with a chance to tie Pittsburgh for fourth in the division and more significantly - if symbolically - to finish off two straight winning months for the first time since 2008.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on September 28, 2011 1:17 AM.

Cubs' kids shut out by San Diego ``varsity'' was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs' Quade ``not leaving here with my head down'' is the next entry in this blog.

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