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Imposter Garza can't stop Cubs' slide

HOUSTON -- In a perfect position to stop the Chicago Cubs' slide, Matt Garza only managed to pour gasoline on this brush fire.

The closest thing the Cubs have to an ace gave up a pair of three-run home runs and seven total runs over three innings as his night ended early.

It was easily his shortest outing of the season and this start, as well as a six-run outing April 18 at Miami, were the only times he has given up more than two runs in an outing this season.

“That was not Matt Garza pitching, it was strange,” manager Dale Sveum said. “So many off-speed pitches and breaking balls, it’s not the Matt Garza that I have seen for the first six weeks. I think he got out of whack somehow.”

Sveum made an early visit to the mound to encourage more fastballs and getting ahead in the count, but that only ended in a Chris Johnson home run.

“It was a bad meeting,” Sveum said.

Johnson’s home run came on a fastball, up and out over the middle of the plate.

“I was just overthrowing everything and not in my mechanics,” Garza said. “I put myself in holes and when you put yourself in holes you can’t make a mistake. You can’t leave it out over the plate.”

Garza insists this isn’t the remnants of the flu bug he fought at the start of May that left him with a 12-day gap between starts.

“It was more trying too hard, trying to stop (stuff) that was going on,” he said. “If you try too hard, you’re not going to stop it you’ll continue it and that’s what happened.”

He vowed to come out angry and vengeful when he makes his next start this weekend at Pittsburgh.

“I tried to find a way to get through it,” he said. “I think I threw my changeup more than I ever have. I couldn’t find my slider until the last two hitters. Too little, too late.”

Randy Wells came on in relief to do what Garza couldn’t, giving up just one run over five innings. It was an ideal outing from a long man because it saved the rest of the bullpen.

“I tell you what, Randy Wells really pitched his (tail) off,” Garza said. “He picked me up for five innings. He did what I couldn’t and that was to give the bullpen a rest.”