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Garza sharp to cap Cubs' sweep

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(AP photo)
The Cubs' Darwin Barney rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks iat Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO – If Matt Garza had his way, his name would not be involved in any trade discussions.

Garza reiterated Sunday his love of Chicago and playing for the Cubs. But the trade deadline clock is ticking and his future with the Cubs is becoming less certain.

Performances like Sunday’s seven innings of shutout ball in the Cubs’ 3-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, exemplify the Cubs’ conundrum with Garza. He surrendered five hits, struck out seven and walked one batter to secure the Cubs’ sweep, part of stretch in which they have won 12 of their past 16 games.

“His fastball was great today,” manager Dale Sveum said of Garza. “He didn't really use the other stuff, but it was basically his fastball command and getting back and using their aggressiveness against them in 3-2 counts and stuff like that. He did a great job.”

Garza (5-7) recorded his 11th quality start in 17 outings and continued his run of great results at Wrigley Field. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 18 consecutive home starts dating to June 27, 2011. It marks the franchise’s longest stretch since Kerry Wood’s 22-straight home starts July 2, 2000, through April 20, 2002.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Garza of his home success. “But as soon as you guy can figure it out I’d like to know too.”

Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single in the first inning put the Cubs (36-52) ahead and Darwin Barney’s two-run homer off Arizona starter Trevor Cahill (7-8) in the second was all the run support Garza needed.

“That’s not my approach, but you have to make adjustments at this level,” Barney said. “I have two strikes and I’m looking to hit one the other way with a man on second, and luckily, I ran into something.”

The Cubs’ starting pitchers, a concern earlier this season, have dominated lately. They threw 19 consecutive scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks (42-46), beginning in the second inning of Friday’s series opener. The starters have a collective 1.13 ERA in the Cubs’ past five games.

“Now, thank God, we can flip that phrase of a broken record every day a few months ago,” Sveum said. “ … Coming out of spring we knew our starting staff if [Jeff] Samardzija was to step up and have the kind of things we thought he could have, it was going to be our strong point coming into the season.”

Sveum said Garza’s performance was one of his best since April, which is important given the number of teams watching his starts before the July 31 trade deadline. Because the Cubs hold Garza’s rights through next season the potential return they could receive in a trade is more lucrative than what they would fetch for another trade candidate, starter Ryan Dempster, who is a free agent after the season.

However, listening to any trade speculation has been the least of Garza’s concerns.

“No man, I have a wife [Serina] that’s due in about 23 days so the rumor mill can wait,” Garza said. “That’s the last thing on my mind right now. I have a wife that’s just ready to pop. … I really don’t care where I’m going to be. I know when she calls, I’ll be right there next to her so that’s all I’m worried about right now.”

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