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

Garza gets first win-Cubs streak at five

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Matt Garza hadn't won a game since July 15 last season, but when he notched his first one Friday, the Cubs ace talked as much about his teammates.
``We're playing great right now,'' he said after his 7-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks--the Cubs' fifth straight victory. ``Guys are growing and you see it right before your eyes, and it's fun to watch.''
But the team could grow exponentially with the return of Garza if this performance is a sign.
His seven innings against the National League West leaders was as powerful as the fastball he resurrected after letting it ``get away from him'' in his last outing against Cincinnati, manager Dale Sveum said.
``He had a good fastball and got ahead early--that was the mentality,'' Sveum said. ``It got away from him his last time throwing too many breaking balls.''
Garza (1-0) knew it too, ignoring the healthy wind blowing out and sticking to his game plan.
``My game plan the last couple starts had gotten away from who I was, and I went back to what got me here--and I liked it.''
So did his teammates, who backed him with another powerful day at the plate and defensively in the field.
``It was a great team effort through and through,'' said Scott Hairston, the platoon outfielder who took his turn as hitting hero with a grand slam in the fourth off Wade Miley (3-5), his third career slam, the second in as many days for the Cubs, and one of three in the game.
The offense coming to life this week has played no small part in the win streak after a season-long six-game losing streak. But defense was what Sveum talked about before the game, and what Garza talked about after it.
``Guys were making plays all over the place,'' he said, picking Hairston's first inning catch at the wall of Paul Goldschmidt's would-be homer before any mention of the slam.
``Scottie going into the ivy--[David] DeJesus' play in shallow center [in the third] and [second baseman Darwin] Barney with that amazing play on [Jason] Kubel [a tumbling catch in short right field in the seventh.
``As a pitcher, you want to get them involved. You don't want 27 strikeouts.''
Garza already proven he has the stuff for that before a stress reaction in his right arm and then a strained lat kept him out of the game for 10 months.
In his third start since returning, he was as happy about going seven innings as he was about the victory.
``I was just going to go out and pound the zone early,'' he said, limiting the D'backs to six hits, three of them coming in the sixth when they scored their two runs. ``I was more pumped about doing deep [in the game.] High pitch counts early are not who I am.''
He is now part of a surprising starting pitching staff that seems ready to force the toughest of decisions on management as the summer progresses.
After a dismal April (10-16), the Cubs went 13-14 in May, including a six-game losing streak.
What has changed is a reviving offense, steadier bullpen and improving defense.
``There were some very poor things going on early in the season, but after the first two weeks, getting Barney back [from the disabled list] every single day obviously is going to shore up your defense,'' Sveum said. ``But everything else has been clicking a lot better.''
That includes the bullpen that added two more scoreless innings Friday, lowering its ERA in the last nine games to 1.08 (3 ER/25 innings).

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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on May 31, 2013 5:15 PM.

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