LIVE: Cubs, Diamondbacks tied 3-3

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LIVE: Cubs, Diamondbacks tied 3-3

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 11:35 a.m.
Associated Press

Matt Garza is tied for second in the NL in strikeouts, but he's come up empty in a more important category since switching leagues in the offseason.

Garza takes the mound Saturday still looking for his first win with the Chicago Cubs, who continue their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Chicago's starters have the highest ERA in the majors at 6.24, but Garza (0-3, 4.11 ERA) will follow up an effective outing by Carlos Zambrano, who went six innings in a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks (11-14) on Friday.

Alfonso Soriano homered twice and Geovany Soto also went deep as the Cubs (11-14) snapped a four-game losing streak.

"This was real good coming off losing four in a row and everything else," manager Mike Quade said. "A real good effort."

Soriano, who also homered in his previous game Tuesday against Colorado, is batting .484 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in his last 10 games against the Diamondbacks.

Garza hopes that success continues, but he'd prefer some improved defense after a sloppy game played a part in his latest loss.

He gave up five runs - four unearned - in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Colorado on Monday. Shortstop Starlin Castro committed three errors in the second, but Garza's errant throw in the fifth allowed the Rockies to score the go-ahead run.

"It is what it is," he told the Cubs' official website. "I accomplished what I wanted to do except throw that ball away in the fifth. I kept the ball in the yard, kept the ball on the ground and pitched effectively - not enough to win, but it's going to come."

Garza, whose 41 strikeouts are tied with Clayton Kershaw for second in the NL behind Tim Lincecum, came over from Tampa Bay during the offseason after winning 15 games in 2010.

The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings April 20 against San Diego, but the Cubs squandered a ninth-inning lead before winning 2-1 in 11 innings. In the two starts before that, he didn't get any run support.

Garza, who has 16 strikeouts in his last two games, has never faced the Diamondbacks.

Arizona pounded Chicago 11-2 in Thursday's series opener, but went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position Friday as it lost for the sixth time in nine games.

Ian Kennedy (3-1, 4.02) will try to help the Diamondbacks bounce back as he goes for a third straight win.

Kennedy threw a three-hitter in a 4-0 victory over Philadelphia on Monday for his first career complete game. He struck out 10 and walked none, going the distance after lasting a combined 8 1-3 innings in his previous two starts.

"To shut our lineup down like that, he was definitely doing something right," Philadelphia's Cliff Lee said. "I wouldn't expect him to go nine innings without giving up a run. That's impressive."

The right-hander split two starts against the Cubs last year, but was roughed up for seven runs in a 9-4 home loss July 5.

Kosuke Fukudome, who is 1 for 9 his last three games, is 3 for 7 against Kennedy with two home runs.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

MESA, Ariz. – Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella appears to be the final decision as the Cubs shape their Opening Night roster.

That's assuming good health – manager Joe Maddon sounded unconcerned about Ben Zobrist (stiff neck), Addison Russell (stiff back) and Albert Almora Jr. (stiff neck) – and the Cubs carrying an eight-man bullpen.

Maddon appeared to eliminate one variable, confirming that La Stella has signaled a willingness to go to Triple-A Iowa if necessary, which would normally be an obvious statement, except for last summer's "Where's Tommy?" episode.

"I haven't even thought about it," Maddon said during Saturday's media session at the Sloan Park complex. "It's not an issue. I thought we handled it pretty openly last year and there's been no blowback whatsoever from the players."

Beyond this – La Stella initially refused to report to the minors last July, moved back home to New Jersey and talked briefly about retirement – an American League scout and a National League scout tracking the Cubs in Arizona both agreed that Szczur looks like the superior player.

Plus Szczur – and not La Stella – is out of minor-league options now.

"When you get this kind of a talent, depth-wise, it's a wonderful problem to have," Maddon said. "And then, of course, the rules start creeping in. The rules in this situation would benefit Matt, which is a good thing, because he's a big-league guy that's been riding the shuttle. He's done it in a very stoic manner, and he's been great for us."

La Stella has allies in the clubhouse – Jake Arrieta got a Coastal Carolina tattoo on his right butt cheek after losing a College World Series bet – and goes about his routine in a quiet, diligent manner.

La Stella is not a distraction at all and can hit left-handed and play the infield – two attributes that Szczur can't bring to Maddon's bench.

"Matt Szczur, to me, is a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said. "You're seeing what Tommy can do from the left side of the plate right now. And then it's just a matter of balancing things out. We've already mentioned that some guys on the infield can play the outfield within this group, thus it presents differently regarding what you need."

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’]

Szczur is hitting .361 with a .994 OPS through 14 Cactus League games and can play all over the outfield. But that skill is diminished when the Cubs already have four established outfielders plus Zobrist and Kris Bryant able to shift from the infield.

Then again, defensive wizard Javier Baez should have the Cubs covered all across the infield in case of an emergency. With the defending World Series champs a week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, we're about to find out if Maddon made his recommendation or had a possible trade scenario or disabled-list situation in mind.

"I love Matt Szczur," Maddon said. "This guy as a teammate – you're not going to get a better one. Nobody's going to get a better one on any team for any reason.

"We haven't decided everything or anything yet. Stuff happens in a very short period of time. He is a major-league baseball player. So we'll just wait a couple more days, see how it plays out. But he's a benefit to any group that has him."