When Matt Garza exited his last start, the Cubs were on their way to a 12th straight defeat.
Chicago has begun to turn it around and Garza hopes to keep that trend going tonight in the continuation of a four-game series against Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants.
Garza is winless in his past four outings, logging two straight losses following a pair of no-decisions. He has given up 13 runs in the two defeats, charged with six of those -- five earned -- on seven hits and a walk over five innings versus the Pirates on Sunday. Pittsburgh touched him for three homers to keep the right-hander winless since April 29.
"He got beat by pitches he shouldn't be throwing people, really," Cubs manager Dale Sveum told his team's official website. "He got beat by his fourth-best pitch, and he had a great fastball today.
"In those situations, against a couple guys, velocity gets them -- and he decided to throw changeups. It's not exactly protocol or what the game plan was. It's unfortunate and they hit them out of the ballpark. It's kind of the way things are going."
Garza fell to 2-3 with a 4.22 earned run average in nine starts this year, including a 1-3 mark with a 6.84 ERA in five on the road.
The 28-year-old has faced the Giants only once before and beat them with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball on Aug. 30 of last year.
The Cubs' posted their longest losing streak since 1997 with Garza's last start, but rebounded with a three-game sweep of the Padres to begin the week. That surge came to end with last night's 4-3 loss and the club could struggle again tonight given that Cain is 5-2 with a 2.16 ERA in 11 career meetings against the Cubs.
The right-handed Cain will try to win his fifth straight start in this encounter and bested the Marlins on Sunday, charged with two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings, though he only fanned four.
Cain retired 11 of the first 12 batters faced to improve to 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 10 starts this season. The 27-year-old has been very good at home, going 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts.
San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner took a shutout bid into the ninth inning of last night's opener, but the Giants had to hold on to secure a one-run victory.
Bumgarner, who struck out a career-high 11 and has never pitched a complete game, opened the ninth by allowing back-to-to-back singles to Starlin Castro and Joe Mather. Closer Santiago Casilla replaced the lefty on the hill, but served up a three-run homer to Alfonso Soriano.
A pinch-hitting Bryan LaHair then stroked a one-out double and Casilla appeared to injure himself fielding Darwin Barney's ensuing infield chopper. Javier Lopez took over on the mound and Steve Clevenger advanced both runners with a groundout to first. But Lopez earned his first save of the season by retiring pinch-hitter David DeJesus on fly ball to center field.
Ryan Theriot collected three hits, scored twice and knocked in a run for the Giants, who have won four of their last five games to get within four games of the first-place Dodgers in the National League West.
"We're playing well right now. It's a good vibe in the clubhouse and the dugout," Giants catcher Buster Posey said.
Angel Pagan continued his hot hitting for San Francisco, going 1-for-4 to extend his home hitting streak to a franchise-record 25 consecutive games dating back to 1918 when records were kept.
Paul Maholm gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings for Chicago, which has dropped eight straight on the road.
"I didn't bury some pitches. They did a good job going the other way with two strikes," said Maholm.
The Cubs won five of nine versus the Giants a season ago, winning the only series played in San Francisco.