- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The Cubs' newly recharged offense gave starter Matt Garza some room to breathe in his first victory in almost 11 months. The 29-year-old pitcher was making his third start since rehabbing a shoulder strain he suffered on Feb. 17 in Mesa, Ariz.
Garza was the beneficiary of three home runs -- including a grand slam from Scott Hairston -- in the Cubs' five-run third inning. The Cubs went on to win 7-2.
"I was able to attack," Garza said. "That is kind of my game plan, but the last couple of starts I have gotten away from who I was. Today I just went back to what got me here, and I liked it."
Garza had not won a game since July 15, 2012. He injured his elbow in his next outing and didn't pitch again until just prior to spring training 2013.
"I needed to go out there and pound the zone," he said. "The last couple of starts I had been pitching around it. High pitch counts early, that is not who I am. I go after guys and make them put it in play while getting my punch-outs."
The Cubs have won five straight games for the first time under manager Dale Sveum.
"We are still playing catch-up," Sveum said. "The fact of the matter is it is still a long season. You have seen it before, teams can win 15 in a row or 14 out of 16 and all of a sudden you are right back in it and having a lot of fun."
The Cubs outscored the opposition 31-8 in their last four games. The defense has also been close to flawless as of late.
"As a pitcher you want to get them involved," Garza said. "You don't want to go out there and try to strike out 27. You want to get those other 8 players involved with in order so you can go deep into a ballgame."
Friday's start by Garza was his 19th consecutive outing at Wrigley where he has allowed three or fewer earned runs.
The Cubs' newly recharged offense gave starter Matt Garza some room to breathe in his first victory in almost 11 months. The 29-year-old pitcher was making his third start since rehabbing a shoulder strain he suffered on Feb.