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posted: 4/12/2012 7:57 PM

Matt Garza's errant heave cost him complete game

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza gets an ovation from the fans as he leaves the game in the ninth inning Thursday.

      Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza gets an ovation from the fans as he leaves the game in the ninth inning Thursday.
    Associated Press

 
 

For as bad as the Cubs have looked at times in the early going, they've come oh-so-close to complete-game victories by a couple of their pitchers.

Jeff Samardzija was foiled by an error and a home run Sunday.

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And Matt Garza? Well, he was foiled by Matt Garza being Matt Garza.

That's not all bad. Garza did go 8 shutout innings Thursday in an 8-0 Cubs victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

With the announced crowd of 36,311 on its feet, Garza got a nice little comebacker off the bat of Norichika Aoki for what looked like the final out. Problem was, somebody in the stands got a nice souvenir as Garza airmailed the ball way over the head of first baseman Bryan LaHair for an error.

With Garza's pitch count at 119, manager Dale Sveum came out to get Garza in favor of reliever Shawn Camp, who closed things out.

Garza was a mite perturbed at himself and needed the cool-down period before addressing the media.

"Like I said, when I start something, I intend to finish, and I was one out away," Garza said. "We won. That's the plus side. But, dang. I got it. Saw LaHair. Said, 'son of a gun.'"

Well, maybe he didn't quite say "son of a gun," but you get the idea.

The bottom line is that Garza is now 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA and has given up 8 hits and 2 runs in 14 innings while walking three and striking out 14. Sveum wanted to let him finish, but that wild heave made it risky that Garza would run his pitch count to 130.

"We might have just witnessed the greatest worst throw of all time," said Sveum, who could be excused for mixing his modifiers. "It was unfortunate that the ball slips out of your hand at that point. But I just couldn't go out and let him have another 10-pitch at-bat or something like that to the next guy. Too much.

"But he pitched one heck of a game. That was impressive, not a lot of stress through 8 innings or anything like that. It was nice of the offense to have a nice day and get a lot of big hits with guys in scoring position back to back to back."

That the Cubs did in a 6-run third inning against tough righty Zack Greinke.

Rookie catcher Steve Clevenger led it off with the first of his 2 doubles. After that, the Cubs got an RBI single from Reed Johnson. Garza struck out, and then David DeJesus, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart all singled.

The Cubs (2-5) had good hitting approaches, using the middle of the field.

"There were a lot of good approaches," Sveum said. "Got a lot of good pitches. Made Greinke get the ball up. We took advantage of all the mistakes he made."

Even mixed in was a stolen base by Soriano, the 36-year-old left fielder who looks like a kid again, running the bases and playing a solid outfield.

"I'm very happy with the stolen base," he said. "My legs are feeling good. I feel like I can run more and help the team get some wins. I think the way the coaches and manager and front office talked to me the first day of spring training, they gave me a lot of motivation and respect.

"They showed me respect, not only me, but my teammates. Everybody here feels comfortable because they showed respect to everybody."

Despite the record, don't tell Garza the Cubs have played poorly.

"I beg to differ," he said. "I think we've been playing really well. We've had a couple nights where we haven't had the best of luck. I'll take the way we're playing over anything right now. The record might not show it, but we're playing good baseball."

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