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updated: 5/22/2013 9:48 AM

Bullpen ruins Garza's glittering return

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza works against the Pirates on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

      Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza works against the Pirates on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza works against the Pirates on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

      Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza works against the Pirates on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
    Associated Press

  • Video: Recap: PIT 5, Cubs 4

 
 

You had to think back a couple hours to remember that Matt Garza had an excellent outing for the Cubs.

The rest of it? Well, it was more of the same-old, same-old in a 5-4 loss Tuesday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

There was more wretched bullpen work and the Cubs' failure to add on to a 3-0 second-inning lead.

The Cubs fell to 18-26, but that really doesn't matter. What matters is that Garza was everything the Cubs had hoped he'd be in his first start off the disabled list.

Garza worked 5 scoreless innings, and even though he ran his pitch count to 82, he struck out five, all coming in a six-batter span from the first through the third innings. He had not pitched since July, when an elbow ailment ended his season. This spring, he suffered a strained left-lat muscle.

"I felt great out there," Garza told reporters. "I had some butterflies and the first couple of innings flew by. I had to kind of stop myself at one point and just slow down, but it was fun. It was a long, long time and it's nice to not only come back but pitch well. You don't want to spend that much time working to get back and then pitch poorly."

The Garza saga now could go either way: The Cubs could trade him to a contender by the July 31 nonwaiver deadline, or they could think about signing him to a contract extension.

Garza even helped himself with the bat, hitting a 2-run double in the Cubs' 3-run second.

"He was really good," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He had a really good slider. His command, for it being his first time back, was outstanding. Even when he missed, he didn't miss by much. His velocity was good, too, consistently at 93-94 (mph). He was just outstanding."

The bullpen blowup came in the sixth, when the Pirates sent 11 men to the plate and scored 5 runs. The big blow was a grand slam by pinch hitter Travis Snider off reliever Shawn Camp (7.56 ERA)

Earlier in the day, the Cubs designated reliever Michael Bowden for assignment and decided to keep Camp, even though Bowden consistently outpitched Camp.

The inning also started curiously. Carlos Villanueva was bumped from the rotation to the bullpen last week in anticipation of Garza coming back. Instead of going to Villanueva to start the sixth inning, Sveum went with Rule 5 rookie Hector Rondon, who retired only one of the four batters he faced, giving up a double, a single and a walk. James Russell walked the only man he faced before Camp's implosion.

•Earlier Tuesday, the Cubs claimed right-handed reliever Eduardo Sanchez off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals and assigned him to Class AAA Iowa. Sanchez, 24, was 0-0 with 1 save and a 3.72 ERA in 9 relief appearances for Class AAA Memphis this season.

He spent part of the last two seasons in the big leagues with the Cardinals (2011-12), combining to go 3-2 with 5 saves and a 3.40 ERA in 43 relief appearances.

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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