Baseball / Sports

Chicago Cubs pitcher Hector Rondon works against the Milwaukee Brewers in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday, May 17, 2014. The Cubs won, 3-0. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Cubs get to Brewers' Matt Garza early in 3-0 victory

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have seen Matt Garza at his best, mowing down hitters with a devastating slider and well-placed fastball.

And they have also seen their former teammate at his worst, when even a routine throw to first base can be trouble.

Now with the Brewers, Garza watched the Cubs challenge his weakness in the first inning of their 3-0 victory Saturday at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs seemed to unnerve Garza when their first two batters bunted. Emilio Bonifacio led off with a first-pitch bunt single and Chris Coghlan sacrificed him to second.

With two outs, Starlin Castro doubled in Bonifacio and Nate Schierholtz drew a walk before Welington Castillo scored both runners with another double.

"Yeah, (Garza) has a problem throwing the ball," Castillo said. "But a couple of guys went straight at him and that worked a little bit for us."

Castillo said such gamesmanship is simply part of baseball.

"He knows that's coming because if you have something going on, you know other teams are going to try to get you ... try to get on base," Castillo said.

The three-run first was all Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (3-3, 3.98 ERA) needed as he went seven strong innings. Jackson allowed just four hits and struck out 11.

"The first inning was a hiccup and it sucks," Garza (2-4, 4.83) said. "I'm just going to keep grinding. It's going to come together sooner or later."

Cubs manager Rick Renteria wouldn't confirm that the Cubs' early strategy was to force Garza to field bunts.

"I don't want to get into that, but we tried to get on base by putting the ball in his general area," Renteria said.

Bonifacio knew precisely what that meant.

"If you put (the bunt) right at him, he is going to run to the base," Bonifacio said. "That's why I tried to put a really good bunt down (to force a throw)."

Garza, who allowed just four hits over seven innings while striking out seven, said the two-out hits ruined his day.

"I left a fastball up to Castro (and) Welington then caught a slider that was up, and that was it," Garza said. "After that, there was nothing else. It was pitches up early. That's what got me."

Meanwhile, Jackson was at his best, even after allowing a one-out single to Jean Segura in the seventh inning. Renteria went to the mound and Jackson assured him he could handle his business.

The Cubs traded Garza, 30, to the Rangers July 22 for third baseman Mike Olt, pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and a player to be named (reliever Neil Ramirez). The Brewers signed him in the offseason as a free agent.

He beat the Cubs 5-2 on April 25 in Milwaukee and said he was not nervous facing his former teammates at Wrigley Field.

"I told you guys the first time, it's just another game," Garza said. "It stinks the way it turned out, but there's no more or less emotion. Every time I go out there I go out there the same way."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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