Cubs

LIVE: Cubs, Diamondbacks tied 3-3

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LIVE: Cubs, Diamondbacks tied 3-3

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 11:35 a.m.
Associated Press

Matt Garza is tied for second in the NL in strikeouts, but he's come up empty in a more important category since switching leagues in the offseason.

Garza takes the mound Saturday still looking for his first win with the Chicago Cubs, who continue their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Chicago's starters have the highest ERA in the majors at 6.24, but Garza (0-3, 4.11 ERA) will follow up an effective outing by Carlos Zambrano, who went six innings in a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks (11-14) on Friday.

Alfonso Soriano homered twice and Geovany Soto also went deep as the Cubs (11-14) snapped a four-game losing streak.

"This was real good coming off losing four in a row and everything else," manager Mike Quade said. "A real good effort."

Soriano, who also homered in his previous game Tuesday against Colorado, is batting .484 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in his last 10 games against the Diamondbacks.

Garza hopes that success continues, but he'd prefer some improved defense after a sloppy game played a part in his latest loss.

He gave up five runs - four unearned - in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Colorado on Monday. Shortstop Starlin Castro committed three errors in the second, but Garza's errant throw in the fifth allowed the Rockies to score the go-ahead run.

"It is what it is," he told the Cubs' official website. "I accomplished what I wanted to do except throw that ball away in the fifth. I kept the ball in the yard, kept the ball on the ground and pitched effectively - not enough to win, but it's going to come."

Garza, whose 41 strikeouts are tied with Clayton Kershaw for second in the NL behind Tim Lincecum, came over from Tampa Bay during the offseason after winning 15 games in 2010.

The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings April 20 against San Diego, but the Cubs squandered a ninth-inning lead before winning 2-1 in 11 innings. In the two starts before that, he didn't get any run support.

Garza, who has 16 strikeouts in his last two games, has never faced the Diamondbacks.

Arizona pounded Chicago 11-2 in Thursday's series opener, but went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position Friday as it lost for the sixth time in nine games.

Ian Kennedy (3-1, 4.02) will try to help the Diamondbacks bounce back as he goes for a third straight win.

Kennedy threw a three-hitter in a 4-0 victory over Philadelphia on Monday for his first career complete game. He struck out 10 and walked none, going the distance after lasting a combined 8 1-3 innings in his previous two starts.

"To shut our lineup down like that, he was definitely doing something right," Philadelphia's Cliff Lee said. "I wouldn't expect him to go nine innings without giving up a run. That's impressive."

The right-hander split two starts against the Cubs last year, but was roughed up for seven runs in a 9-4 home loss July 5.

Kosuke Fukudome, who is 1 for 9 his last three games, is 3 for 7 against Kennedy with two home runs.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

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USA TODAY

Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

When former Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson signed with the Twins last week, one thought was Atlanta could pivot and try to acquire Kris Bryant to fill the void in their lineup.

That possibility looks less likely now, as the Braves announced Tuesday they’ve signed former Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal.

The Braves didn’t have a dire need for a third baseman — 22-year-old Austin Riley, a former top prospect, is waiting in the wings — so much as they needed a bat to replace Donaldson. Bryant would have checked both those boxes, but the path to acquiring him is more difficult.

Bryant has been fixated in trade rumors this winter, but any extensive negotiations won’t occur until his service time grievance case is resolved. NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan reported last week Bryant trade rumors this winter have been “greatly exaggerated” because the lingering grievance.

The Braves have been named a potential Bryant suitor as they hold the top prospects the Cubs would seek in return for Bryant. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman threw cold water on that notion recently.

There’s also the possibility the Cubs don’t move at all Bryant this offseason.

"No, we're not in a position where we *have* to do anything,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday at Cubs Convention. “I think you want to always avoid being put in a corner where you have to make a deal and your back's against the wall and you're gonna take any deal that's out there.

“We’re not at all in that position but looking at the longer time horizon of the next two years, I think you would be wise at some point to do something that looks out a little bit more for the long-term and a little bit less for the short-term, but that doesn't have to happen now. We're not in a position where we have to move anybody."

Ozuna joining the Braves means the Cardinals lost one of their most productive bats from the 2019 division championship club. Like the Cubs, St. Louis' offseason has been marked by low-key moves, outside of the Cardinals acquiring pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore from the Rays, a deal which sent Cardinals slugger Jose Martinez to Tampa Bay.

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Cubs acquire righty reliever Travis Lakins from Red Sox as bullpen stockpiling continues

Cubs acquire righty reliever Travis Lakins from Red Sox as bullpen stockpiling continues

The Cubs continued their stockpiling of relievers on Tuesday, acquiring right-hander Travis Lakins from the Red Sox. The North Siders will send a player to be named later or cash considerations to Boston in return.

Lakins is a former sixth-round pick by the Red Sox who made his big-league debut last season. The 25-year-old sported a 3.86 ERA in 16 appearances, three of which he started the game as an "opener." He pitched 23 1/3 innings in the big leagues season, striking out 18 while walking 10. He holds a 4.45 ERA in parts of five minor-league seasons.

Lakins' fastball ranks in the 70th percentile for spin rate, averaging 93.7 mph with his four-seamer last season with Boston. 

The Cubs have acquired a plethora of low-key relievers this winter, including Dan Winkler, Ryan Tepera, Jason Adam and now Lakins. The club lost stalwart Steve Cishek to the White Sox and haven't been connected to the reliable Brandon Kintzler this offseason.  Pedro Strop is also a free agent, and the Cubs are reportedly interested in a reunion.

As of now, the only locks for the 2020 bullpen are closer Craig Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan and Brad Wieck. Thus, the Cubs have been gathering as many relief options as possible with the hope some will emerge as viable relief candidates this season. At the least, they'll have plenty of depth in case any injuries occur or if any arms underperform.

"You realize to get through a season, it's not a matter of going up on a whiteboard and writing up your eight relievers," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said at Cubs Convention Saturday. "It's a matter of [needing] 15, 20, 25 good relievers over the course of the summer to really get through it.

"When you guys see a lot of these transactions of relievers, often times they're going to be coming off down years. For the most part, I bet you when we acquire a guy, you can look back and you can see a year in the not-too-distant past when they had a really good year.

"That's the kind of shot we have to take, and that's the kind of shot every team has to take on capturing that lightning in a bottle. Buying really high on relievers and signing them after they have a breakout year is really expensive and really difficult and doesn't have a great success rate. We try to find those guys that we can catch lightning in a bottle, and that's been a big part of our strategy."

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