The timing this weekend couldn't have worked out better for the Cubs.
Well, that depends on whom you ask and for what reason.
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Matt Garza pitched the Cubs to a 3-1 victory Sunday for a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He got help with Anthony Rizzo's first-inning RBI single and Darwin Barney's 2-run homer in the second.
Garza's strong outing came one day after Ryan Dempster turned in a sterling performance to beat the D'backs. It's no secret the Cubs are listening to trade offers for both pitchers, and the scouts no doubt filed good reports all weekend.
But Garza said he loves playing in Chicago, and there's one reason causing him a little anxiety.
"No, man, I've got a wife who's due in about 23 days, so the rumor mill can wait," said Garza, whose wife, Serina, is expecting the couple's fourth child. "That's the last thing I want on my mind right now when I've got a wife who's just ready to pop.
"We don't care where I'm going to be, but I know when she calls, I'll be right there next to her. That's all I'm worried about right now."
But seriously, the Cubs are on a nice little run, having won 12 of their last 16 games to improve to 36-52. Dempster certainly has been a big part of that, and Garza can be a part of good things to come for the Cubs if they choose to keep him to build around.
Manager Dale Sveum also would hate to lose his two aces on, before or after the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.
"Yeah, you think about that a lot," Sveum said with a chuckle. "You don't dwell on it. Just to be having a streak like this and winning a lot of ballgames is something you don't want to lose. You don't want to lose pieces to that puzzle."
Garza came back strong after losing 2 of his last 3 starts, but before the all-star break he promised better. He delivered Sunday, with 7 scoreless innings as he improved to 5-7 and lowered his ERA from 4.32 to 4.02.
"I've been searching to try and get back to where I was," he said. "I used the break to reflect more than think and kind of go back to having fun and attacking hitters."
Garza was able to make the adjustments he needed against an aggressive Arizona lineup. He survived a 29-pitch third inning, stranding two runners. He also left two on base in the fourth before settling back down.
"Garza was awesome," Sveum said. "Seven innings, 107 pitches. His fastball was great today. He used his other stuff, but it was basically just his fastball and getting back and using their aggressiveness against them, on 3-2 counts and stuff like that, but he did a great job."
The friendly confines of Wrigley Field certainly have been friendly to Garza. He has given up 3 or fewer runs in 18 consecutive home starts for the longest stretch since Kerry Wood did that over 22 straight from 2000-02. In his last 18 home starts, Garza is 7-4 with 2 complete games and a 1.97 ERA.
Garza would like to be around to enjoy the hoped-for good times to come. In addition to the recent run of good pitching, the Cubs' hot streak also has coincided with Rizzo's late-June call-up from the minor leagues.
"We brought up a kid who's real exciting, real exciting," Garza said. "Just putting his presence in the lineup, you guys see what happens. You put pressure on the other team, and pitchers have to come up and make good pitches.
"Just his attitude, just his youth kind of kicked people into a new gear, and it's awesome. It's fun to see stuff like that. We're going to keep riding it on and keep doing it.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love it here. My kids love it here. They love what they do around here. I'm open to (staying long term). But like I said before, it's not my choice."