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Once again, Garza a hard-luck starter

7/20/2011

CHICAGO -- Like a riverboat poker player, Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade went all in with his starter Matt Garza and his top reliever Sean Marshall on Tuesday night.

Quade and his team came up empty, as the result was a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies after Marshall was unable to hold onto the two-run lead he inherited from Garza in the eighth inning. Quade had decided to keep closer Carlos Marmol on the bench one more night.

“We were going to go one hitter at a time,” Quade said. “We decided to stay away from (Marmol) and try to get the last six outs with Garza, Marshall and (Kerry Wood).”

Marshall entered the game after Garza, who had thrown 113 pitches after seven, surrendered a single to Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins to start the eighth. Michael Martinez singled off Marshall and then Chase Utley doubled home the tying runs. Martinez’s two-run double off Marshall in the ninth was the fatal blow in another disappointing loss.

It was the fourth blown save by the Cubs bullpen in Garza’s starts this season.

“I’m pretty sure my guys aren’t doing it on purpose,” Garza said. “They’re out there and they want to win just as bad as I do. There’s no blame, we don’t blame anybody. That’s just the way the ball bounces. You just keep grinding it out, get ready for the next one.”

The Cubs clung to a 2-0 lead for seven innings as for a while, Starlin Castro's two-run home run in the first looked like it would hold up. The Cubs had former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee on the ropes in the second and fifth innings, but failed to score.

Lee, who was looking very ordinary to begin the game, struck out the side in the second after giving up a leadoff double to Carlos Pena and a single to Geovany Soto on which Pena was held at third.

Garza allowed just one run in seven-plus innings. The hard-luck Cubs starter has given up just one run in his last 14 innings, resulting in two no decisions.

“That’s baseball,” Garza said. If it was a given, it wouldn’t be that much fun, would it? The challenge is in the battle. Wins and losses you can’t control.”

The Cubs are back to a season low 20 games under .500 and are 13½ behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.