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Carlos Silva exceeding expectations, now 5-0

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carlos-silva-cubs.jpgThe best starting pitcher for the Cubs this year is a hefty right-hander named Carlos.

Not him.

The other guy.

Carlos Silva, after going 5-18 over the past two seasons, has come to town, put on his plus-sized uniform, and pitched better than anyone could have predicted.

He picked up his team-leading fifth victory of the season Tuesday after spinning six-plus innings of two-run ball against the Colorado Rockies in a 6-2 victory that extended the Cubs' winning streak to three games.

Silva became the first Cub to begin a season 5-0 since Greg Maddux in 2006 and the first starter to win his first five decisions with the club since Mark Clark in 1997.

The unexpected de facto ace is enjoying the success.

"One thing that I've been doing this year is trying to be myself," Silva said. "I am a pitcher that has a lot of emotions. I let it go, try to be myself and not anyone else."

Coming into the season, plenty of questions abounded about just what version of Silva the Cubs would get. Would it be the unremarkable Silva of the past two years or the one that excelled earlier in his career with Minnesota.

Eight starts in, it's been a version that's keeping the team afloat in the NL Central.

"I was surprised the last two years, how bad I did," Silva said. "I know I weigh 275 pounds, but maybe people don't think I work hard. I work really hard.

"I think I prepared myself more mentally than physically this year. I think the most important thing is staying confident and going in thinking 100 percent that I can do this."

Silva leads the staff with six quality starts and the Cubs are 7-1 when he takes the hill.

Hard not to be confident in the face of these numbers.

"Every game he's pitched, he's been very competitive," manager Lou Piniella said. "We get six innings from a pitcher and he keeps us in a ballgame, we feel good about it.

"The one good thing we found out rather quickly in Spring Training is that he's healthy. When a pitcher's healthy ... you figure you've got a chance to get good production."

One of the keys to Silva's early victories has been his ability to attack the strike zone. He's walked one batter or less in five of his eight outings, including Tuesday.

"His pitch counts are low, tonight they were exceedingly low," Piniella said. "He throws a lot of strikes, he changes speeds, throws enough breaking balls to keep the hitters off his fastball."

The lineup, too, has been extremely productive in support. They've scored at least three runs in all of his starts, which could be in part to the crisp, efficient matter Silva has been retiring batters.

"The faster you work, the better it's going to be for the team," Silva said. "If you keep your team in and out, and don't let them sit for too long in the field, they're going to score some runs for you."

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Wait til it gets hot and his forearm starts cramping.

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