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Cubs' Garza raises trade value in win over A's

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Matt Garza is a longtime Oakland Raiders fan, so he's used to seeing big crowds file out of the O.co Coliseum disappointed.

The Chicago Cubs right-hander witnessed it again Wednesday night, only this time with a sense of accomplishment.

Garza outdueled reigning American League Pitcher of the Month Bartolo Colon in front of a sellout crowd of 35,067 as the Cubs kept alive their hopes of winning a fourth consecutive series by beating the Oakland Athletics 3-1.

In running their interleague record to 11-5, the Cubs got all the runs Garza (4-1) would need on Alfonso Soriano's RBI single in the first inning and Luis Valbuena's solo home run in the third, both coming off Colon, who entered the game on an eight-game winning streak.

"That's as good as I've seen him," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Garza. "He had exceptional command of his fastball, and he had a little extra when he needed it."

Throw in an insurance run on Brian Bogusevic's eighth-inning double, and the Cubs had their 19th road win just past the midpoint of the season after having recorded just 23 victories away from Wrigley Field all of last year.

"My goal is to get my team to October," Garza said after the Cubs improved to 11-5 in interleague play and 36-46 overall. "We're scratching and clawing our way back."

The A's, who rallied late to win Tuesday's series opener 8-7, fell to 10-4 in interleague play. Oakland (49-36) nonetheless retained first place in the AL West by a half-game as the Texas Rangers also lost, 4-2 in 10 innings to the Seattle Mariners.

Garza, who actually outpitched Colon (11-3) over their last three starts in June, made it four in a row by limiting the A's to one run and four hits over eight innings. He walked three and struck out five before turning the ball over to closer Kevin Gregg for the ninth inning.

It was the type of effort that is bound to get the Cubs' phones ringing. After Chicago dealt dependable Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, Garza's name now tops the list of most likely Cub to go.

"For six or seven years, my name has gone around," he said. "Until my phone rings, I'm going to stay a Cub.

"I love pitching in October. I'd love to pitch for this team in October."

The only run allowed by Garza came on Brandon Moss' solo home run to right field in the fourth inning. It was Moss' 15th homer of the season.

Gregg recorded his 14th save in 15 tries, surviving a two-out walk to John Jaso to pitch a hitless and scoreless ninth.

Garza has now allowed just three runs in his last four games, five fewer than Colon, who went unbeaten last month.

The A's veteran wasn't as sharp to start July, watching the Cubs score twice and bang out nine hits in his seven innings. He suffered his first loss since May 9 against the Cleveland Indians, and he didn't strike out a batter for the second time this season. Colon walked just one.

"Bartolo did well, the way he always does," said Jaso, Oakland's catcher. "We just didn't score any runs to back up his performance."

Colon, who gave up only seven runs in the entire month of June, surrendered one within his first four batters of July thanks in large part to his first wild pitch in five years.

With two outs and Starlin Castro, who had singled, on first base in the top of the first inning, Colon uncorked a 57-footer that eluded Jaso and advanced the runner 90 feet. It was the veteran's first wild pitch since May 26, 2009, a stretch of 443 innings.

Soriano, the DH, made Colon pay for the mistake, dropping a two-strike, RBI single into center field to put the Cubs on the board. Soriano began the night batting .386 with 24 RBIs in 25 career games as a DH.

Jaso said the run should have been charged to him.

"No one felt worse about it than me," he said of the wild pitch, which kicked off his glove. "I had to come up to the clubhouse and get away from everyone, I was so mad at myself."

NOTES: The home run by Valbuena, which deflected off the side of leaping RF Josh Reddick's glove, was the 13th by a Cubs third baseman this season, one more than they got out of the position all of last year. ... The game attracted Oakland's eighth sellout of the season on fireworks night. ... The A's have decided to give Thursday's scheduled starter, RHP Jarrod Parker, two additional days to rest a sore right hamstring, pushing him back to face the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. Parker will be replaced in Thursday's series finale against the Cubs by RHP Dan Straily, who will be promoted from Triple-A Sacramento before the game. ... The AL Pitcher of the Month Award for Colon was his first since August 2005, a season in which he went on to win the AL Cy Young Award for the Los Angeles Angels. ... RHP Pedro Strop and RHP Matt Guerrier, two relievers, were in uniform for the Cubs after having been acquired in trades Tuesday. ... RHP Jake Arrieta, projected to be a future mainstay in the Cubs' rotation, was sent to Triple-A Iowa following his acquisition Tuesday from the Baltimore Orioles. ... To make room for Strop and Guerrier on the roster, the Cubs sent Tuesday's emergency starter, LHP Chris Rusin, back to Iowa and designated reliever RHP Shawn Camp for assignment.
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