Dealing Garza helps Cubs cap sweep of D-backs

Dealing Garza helps Cubs cap sweep of D-backs

Dealing Garza helps Cubs cap sweep of D-backs
CHICAGO -- The strong starting pitching performances and double plays just keep coming for the Cubs.

So, too, do the wins.

Right-hander Matt Garza tossed seven shutout innings and second baseman Darwin Barney homered as the Cubs completed a three-game sweep of the D-backs with a 3-1 win on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs have won a season-high-tying four straight, and 12 of their last 16. Sunday's victory also was Chicago's sixth straight at Wrigley Field, the team's longest winning streak at the Friendly Confines since June 18-July 3, 2009.

The Cubs' sweep of the D-backs was its first over Arizona at Wrigley since May 9-11, 2008.

"Things weren't really falling our way early; we weren't really making it happen, either, but as of late we're playing good baseball," Barney said. "Playing really good on the defensive side, especially, and when you have starting pitching like we have lately, it's easy to win ballgames that way."

Garza (5-7, 4.02 ERA) scattered five hits, walked one and struck out seven. It was the right-hander's 18th consecutive start at Wrigley Field in which he allowed three or fewer earned runs, a streak that dates back to June 27 of last year. Garza is 7-4 with a 1.97 ERA in that stretch, the longest by a Cubs starter since Kerry Wood twirled 22 consecutive such outings from July 7, 2000-April 20, 2002.

"You've got to give credit to Garza today, he did a good job, pitched pretty well," D-backs catcher Miguel Montero said. "Still, we've got to put some runs on the board and we haven't been able to do that."

Garza's effort was the latest by a Chicago rotation that has a 1.13 ERA in the last five games. The bullpen has given up only two runs in its last 12 innings, one of which was a solo homer by D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill in the eighth off right-hander Shawn Camp.

The Cubs also held the D-backs scoreless for 19 consecutive innings in the series before Hill's blast, and Garza admitted keeping the solid pitching going served as motivation.

"You don't want to be that guy," Garza said. "So you just keep going and keep pounding and keep pounding strikes."

Garza was helped by a defense that has committed only three errors in the past 14 games while turning a healthy amount of double plays.

Cubs pitching induced one double-play grounder Sunday -- this one of the 5-4-3 variety to end the fifth inning -- to extend the team's streak of turning at least one double play to 10 straight games.

Barney, who was in the middle of that fifth-inning DP, provided most of Sunday's offense, as well, hitting a two-run home run in the second inning off D-backs starter Trevor Cahill (7-8, 3.71 ERA).

The homer was Barney's fourth of the season.

The Cubs' hot play comes on the heels of the callup of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who drove in the game's first run with an RBI single in the first and has hit safely in 13 of his 15 games. Garza and Barney listed Rizzo's callup as a key to Chicago's strong stretch.

"We brought up a kid who's real exciting. Real exciting," Garza said. "And just his presence in the lineup, you guys can see what happens. You put pressure on the other team and pitchers have to come up and make big pitches. His energy and just his youth just kind of kicked people in gear, and it's awesome."

The Cubs' recent run also comes at a time when there are sure to be changes to the roster. The July 31 non-wavier Trade Deadline is closing in fast, and Chicago has a host of players who are drawing interest, including Garza.

Garza, however, said he doesn't pay attention to the rumor mill, saying, "No, I've got a wife who's due in about 23 days, so the rumor mill can wait."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum admitted it's tough to think about losing key guys like Garza and fellow right-hander Ryan Dempster, especially with the club playing well.

"You think about that a lot. You don't dwell on it," Sveum said. "Just to be having a streak like this and winning a lot of ballgames is something. You don't want to lose pieces to that puzzle."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.