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Rapid Reaction: Cubs 3, Athletics 1

7/5/2013

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Here’s a quick glance at the Chicago Cubs’ 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night at O.co Coliseum.

How it happened: If Wednesday happens to be Matt Garza’s last start as a Cub, he made it a good one. The right-hander held the A’s to four hits over eight innings, minimizing the work for his beleaguered bullpen and helping Chicago even this three-game series at one game apiece. Garza (4-1) is one of the hottest names on the trade market, and considering the Cubs are in full sell mode it’s highly probable that he will be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. He threw a season-high 114 pitches and clearly had lost some zip on his fastball by the eighth. But it was no surprise to see manager Dale Sveum stick with him so long, considering how many games the bullpen has blown. The only damage off Garza came when Brandon Moss hit a hanging breaking ball over the right-field wall in the fourth. The Cubs took the early lead when Alfonso Soriano singled home Starlin Castro in the first. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the third on Luis Valbuena’s seventh homer of the season. Kevin Gregg handled the ninth for his 14th save.

What it means: It’s the kind of victory the Cubs have failed to salt away on so many occasions. But they managed to nail down a much-deserved win for Garza. Chicago fans should savor the pitching formula used: Garza mowing down hitters for eight innings before handing the ball to Gregg to finish it. Both players are heavily rumored to be on the trade market, so who knows how much longer they’ll see this combination?

Outside the box: Garza continues to pitch better away from Wrigley Field. He carries a 2.41 ERA in six road starts, compared to a 5.40 ERA in three starts at home. But those home numbers are a bit deceiving, as Garza gave up nine runs in one of those outings to throw his ERA out of whack. ... The Cubs achieved a mighty feat Wednesday night in defeating A’s starter Bartolo Colon (11-3). The portly right-hander had won eight starts in a row, one off the Oakland record held by Barry Zito. Colon held the Cubs to two runs over seven innings -- good, but not good enough on this night.

Up next: Lefty Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85) is winless in his past five outings despite posting quality starts in all of them. He’ll try to break back into the victory column in Thursday’s 3:05 p.m. CT holiday matchup. Dan Straily (4-2. 5.00) takes the mound for the A’s.