MESA, Ariz. -- A good case could have been made for Javier Vazquez to have been carrying a no-hitter through five innings during Saturday's contest with the Cubs at Hohokam Park.
Vazquez allowed a single to Derrek Lee in the first inning, but it was a hard-hit ball that was played somewhat to the side by second baseman Pablo Ozuna. Felix Pie's two-out single in the second was lost in the sun by shortstop Juan Uribe.
Those two safeties were the sum total of the Cubs' attack for five innings, before the North Siders ran off four runs on four hits and knocked out Vazquez with two out in the sixth. Even with the rough ending, Vazquez and manager Ozzie Guillen were satisfied with the right-hander's second-to-last spring start.
"Overall, I felt good," said Vazquez, who struck out six and walked two. "I hit my spots. My pitches were working today."
"Real good," added Guillen. "He threw the ball well. I [don't] worry about him. He will give you the best outing every time he pitches."
The final target for Vazquez is to hit 100 pitches during his last start Thursday before the White Sox break camp. Vazquez's bigger goal, though, is to build on what he accomplished last year, where his 15 wins and 213 strikeouts topped all White Sox starters.
With 22 strikeouts and a mere four walks issued over 17 2/3 Cactus League innings, Vazquez appears to be starting in the right direction. Saturday's effort also was accomplished against a Cubs lineup missing just one starter.
"Today was a game where I think the intensity was there and everything else was there," Vazquez said. "I was facing the Cubs, and they have a great lineup. It's good to face hitters all the way through the sixth inning, not just two at-bats and they get out of there.
"I feel that I have to build from last year and continue what I worked on last year and what went well last year. That's what I'm trying to do. I feel good about myself coming into the season."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.