MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Carlos Silva is telling everyone — including his mother — that he is back to being an effective major league pitcher.
"I talk to my mother before and after (every) game, and the message I sent to her said: 'The way that I feel today, I don't feel for a long, long time. Today, I feel like it was me,'" said Silva, whose four shutout innings Tuesday led the Chicago Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
When the Cubs wanted to send Milton Bradley to Seattle, Silva was the high-priced underachiever the Mariners insisted Chicago take in the deal.
The Cubs hoped he'd pitch as he did during his four seasons in Minnesota and not his two years in Seattle — where at 5-18 with a 7.01 ERA, Silva was one of the worst starters in baseball.
After getting pounded in his first spring outing, he has pitched seven straight scoreless innings. Silva, who has two years and $25 million left on his contract, was especially strong Tuesday, limiting Texas to two hits and striking out three.
"You can't throw the ball better than he did today," manager Lou Piniella said. "Boy, he made it look relatively easy."
Now Silva is closing in on a spot in the Cubs' rotation.
"I'm very competitive. I want to make the rotation. But the only thing I want to do is help this team," Silva said. "Deep inside, I want to say I feel good about the way I pitch."
One Texas pitcher, C.J. Wilson, also came out of Tuesday's game feeling good.
After allowing one run and three hits and striking out five in four innings, the 29-year-old left-hander seemed almost a lock for a spot in the Rangers' rotation.
"Well, he's looking great," manager Ron Washington said. "You can't take anything away from what he's done. We just haven't gotten to the point yet where we're ready to make an announcement."
Wilson, who pitched the fifth through eighth innings, began the eighth by giving up Tyler Colvin's single and Xavier Nady's double. Wilson stranded both runners by retiring the next three hitters on easy grounders.
"I just got (ticked) off," he said. "I told myself, 'I'm not going to let them score.'"
An inning earlier, he gave up Jeff Baker's homer. The other three Chicago runs came in the third off starter Neftali Feliz, a 21-year-old righty who is a longshot to make the rotation.
Nady had a two-run double off Feliz and Marlon Byrd followed with an RBI single against his former team.
There were 23 strikeouts in the game, 12 by Texas batters. Chris Davis, whose .538 average entering the game was the highest in spring exhibitions among all qualifiers, struck out three times. Texas is batting .185 in losing its last four games.
NOTES: Cubs LHP Ted Lilly (offseason shoulder surgery) could be back well before May 1 that had been mentioned often by Piniella. Lilly is scheduled to pitch batting practice Thursday and then again a few days later. He'd then work a simulated game. After that would come a spring exhibition outing, followed by two minor-league starts. With no setbacks, Piniella said, Lilly could be pitching for the Cubs by mid-April. ... Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, out since Friday with a sprained right ankle, is expected to miss at least another week. ... An MRI of Texas RHP Warner Madrigal's sore right forearm showed no damage but the Rangers didn't know when he'd pitch again. ... Piniella said Kevin Millar, a candidate to be 1B Derrek Lee's backup, will get some time in LF to see if he can handle the position.