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