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updated: 3/23/2011 8:52 PM

'Plot thickens' on who will be Cubs fifth starter

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MESA, Ariz. -- Who said it's over?

Certainly not Carlos Silva after he started Wednesday and pitched 6 solid innings for the Cubs in a crisp 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

"The only thing I can say is thank God for this game," said Silva, believed to be on the bubble after a poor spring until Wednesday. "I know I can pitch."

Manager Mike Quade added his own intrigue to the proceedings, with Opening Day coming a week from Friday.

"The plot thickens," Quade said. "He was good. He was real good. Everybody was good. My goodness."

That said, Quade wasn't tipping his hand on who wins the fifth starter's job: Silva or Andrew Cashner, seemingly the public's favorite.

"This means that decisions remain tough, and we've got to figure it out," the manager said. "We're thrilled to death guys compete and make them tough. It's that simple. That's it. We'll see how this plays out, and I'll milk it as long as I can."

Silva gave up 1 run on 2 hits in the first inning, but he finished by retiring 17 of the final 18 batters he faced.

Looking visibly relieved in the clubhouse, he also flashed some competitive pride.

"As long as I'm wearing a big-league jersey, it'll be fine," he said. "But for me, you guys know I'm so competitive. If they say you're going to fight for the 5 spot, I'm going to fight for the fifth spot. I'm going to fight for it.

"I don't have any problem pitching out of the bullpen or being a starter, but when you say something to me like, 'You're in the competition for the fifth spot,' I'm going to kill people for the fifth spot."

The killer instinct aside, Silva said one key to his performance was relaxing and feeling like he was throwing "80 percent."

For the spring, he is now 1-2 with a 10.92 ERA.

Roster cuts:

The Cubs cut four players Wednesday. They optioned relievers Justin Berg and Scott Maine to Class AAA Iowa. Sent to minor-league camp were nonroster men Angel Guzman and Todd Wellemeyer.

Guzman is trying to come back from shoulder surgery. Wellemeyer is a former Cub who had designs on either a rotation spot or as a long man out of the pen.

However, he's battled a hip injury this spring, and it's not getting better.

"I threw a bullpen (Tuesday), and it flared back up," Wellemeyer said. "It felt fine. I just didn't get after it. It was just kind of touch and feel. The fact that I was just playing catch today and it flared up again, it's not a very positive outlook, unfortunately."

Wellemeyer has taken an injection for the ailment.

"I really didn't get a single inning live during a game where I felt like there wasn't a stabbing pain in my hip," he said.

The moves leave the spring roster at 36. There will be position-player cuts Thursday, and the pitching picture should come into focus over the weekend if not by next Monday.

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