Rapid Reaction: Braves 7, Cubs 3

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
9:03
PM CT


ATLANTA -- The Chicago Cubs could only muster a split of the four-game series against the Atlanta Braves after a 7-3 defeat in Thursday’s finale.

HOW IT HAPPENED: This one was over just after it started as Matt Garza gave up a pair of two-run home runs in the first inning. Garza lasted just four innings, in large part due to the fact that he threw 28 of his 94 pitches in two at-bats by the Braves’ Juan Francisco. He gave up five runs on five hits, including another home run from Freddie Freeman in the third inning. Geovany Soto had a fifth-inning home run for the Cubs

WHAT IT MEANS: With scouts on hand to watch him pitch, Garza didn’t do a good job of selling himself to a contender. Garza is one of the more highly regarded starting pitchers available before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He hasn’t been sharp in his last two outings, though, as he has thrown 198 combined pitches and only lasted 9 1/3 innings. He walked three batters for the second consecutive time after not walking more than one over his previous six starts.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Starlin Castro’s offensive slide continued Thursday. He entered with five hits in his previous 35 at-bats (.143) going back to a June 24 game at Arizona. He then went 0-for-4 against the Braves on Thursday and was 2-for-16 in the four-game series. Manager Dale Sveum said he considered giving Castro a day off but had second thoughts, saying Castro’s defense is too valuable to replace.

OFF BEAT: Despite the fact that Garza got Francisco on a ground ball to end the first inning, he still lost the battle. Francisco saw 16 pitches from Garza in the at-bat as he fouled off nine consecutive at one point. The person least interested in the pitcher-hitter duel was the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons, who was on first base. Simmons had to break for second base on 10 consecutive two-strike, two-out pitches. After Francisco eventually grounded out, the bat boy brought an exhausted Simmons two cups of cold water.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send left-hander Travis Wood (3-3, 3.05 ERA) to the mound Friday in the opener of a three-game series at New York. The Mets will counter with left-hander Johan Santana (6-4, 2.76) in the 6:10 p.m CST start from Citi Field.

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jason Hammel
WINS ERA SO IP
2 3.05 16 20
OTHER LEADERS
BAE. Bonifacio .339
HRA. Rizzo 2
RBIA. Rizzo 8
RA. Rizzo 9
OPSA. Rizzo .922
ERAJ. Samardzija 1.29
SOT. Wood 19