Matt Garza improves to 4-0 in his last five starts, lowering his ERA from 4.94 to 3.22 in that span. (USATSI)
Matt Garza pitched seven strong innings, Alfonso Soriano homered and scored four runs, and the Cubs pulled away late to beat the White Sox 8-2 on Monday night.Dave Sappelt had a career-high four hits, while Soriano had three. Luis Valbuena drove in three runs, hitting the tiebreaking two-run double and scoring during a five-run eighth.Garza (5-1), meanwhile, came through with another terrific outing. He’s 4-0 in his last five starts after allowing two runs – one earned – and five hits, striking out six without a walk. He’s lowered his ERA from 4.98 to 3.22 during this stretch. Valbuena broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run double off reliever Matt Thornton (0-3) and came around on a single by Sappelt off Nate Jones. Ransom capped the rally with a two-run, bases-loaded single, and the Cubs completed the four-game season sweep against their crosstown rivals and have now beaten the Southsiders in six of the past seven after the Sox had won 18 of 24.White Sox starter Hector Santiago lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits.The game, a makeup from May 28, this game was delayed 29 minutes at the start by rain.The Cubs continued to unload players before the game, trading outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Ivan Pineyro. In the past week alone, they’ve also dealt pitchers Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol, along with catcher Steve Clevenger, and Garza could be on his way out, too.General manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged Monday that teams are interested in the right-hander, saying he’s “a guy we’ve gotten a lot of phone calls on” and has “opened a lot of eyes” of late.Garza gave up a solo drive in the third to Josh Phegley, who hit his first career homer against Tampa Bay’s David Price on Sunday. That made him the quickest White Sox rookie to homer in consecutive games since Magglio Ordonez went deep in his second and third games in 1997.Soriano gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead when he knocked a high pitch to the seats in left leading off the sixth, just after lightning flashed and thunder cracked. The home run was his 13th on the season and sixth in 10 games. It was also the 385th of his career, putting him in sole possession of 59th place on baseball’s all-time list ahead of former White Sox All-Star Harold Baines.But the White Sox immediately tied it, thanks to some shaky defense by the Cubs.Second baseman Darwin Barney threw wildly to first on an infield single by Gordon Beckham with one out, allowing the runner to advance to second, and a single by Alex Rios put men on the corners. With two outs, catcher Dioner Navarro bounced a throw to second that Barney could not handle on a double steal, allowing Beckham to score the tying run. It was also the first time a White Sox player swiped home since Juan Pierre did it against Cleveland on Oct. 2, 2010.
NOTES—The Cubs completed the four-game season sweep against their crosstown rivals and have now beaten the Southsiders in six of the past seven after the Sox had won 18 of 24. The only previous Season sweep was in 1998 when the Cubs won all three meetings from the Sox. The only time anyone has won more than four in the season in the Cross Town series was in 2007 when the Cubs took five of six….. The Sox have won four of six many times, but never more than four in a single season….Neither team had swept the season series with its crosstown rival since they moved to a home-and-home format in 1999. … The White Sox open a three-game series at Detroit on Tuesday, with LHP Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.69 ERA) starting against RHP Justin Verlander (9-5, 3.54). … All Star Travis Wood (5-6, 2.69) starts Tuesday for the Cubs against the Angels, with RHP Joe Blanton (2-10, 5.14) going for the Angels…..The Cubs outscored the Sox 32-8 in the four games this season.