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Valbuena's two-run double gives Cubs a lead

CHICAGO -- If this was Matt Garza's last start with the Cubs, he gave some teams plenty to think about.

Alfonso Soriano hit a solo home run, a double and stole two bases, and Luis Valbuena drove in three runs to back Garza and lift the Cubs to an 8-2 Interleague victory Monday night over the White Sox to complete a sweep of the rain-delayed intracity series.

The Cubs had already won the first three games of this crosstown series, and this was a makeup game of the May 28 rained-out contest. They posted their first winning season series over the White Sox since going 5-1 in 2007. It's the first sweep by either the Cubs or White Sox since the teams began a home-and-away format in 1999.

Garza, the subject of trade rumors since Spring Training, scattered five hits over seven innings while striking out six.

"He was outstanding again," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Garza, who has given up just four earned runs over 37 innings in his last five starts.

"I think it's picking up where I left off last year," Garza said. "I just needed a couple starts under my belt and I'll be right back in this thing, and I fully believed that."

He's dealt with trade rumors since his first year, and has learned to shrug them off.

"At least you're wanted," he said. "It could be the other way, where they're like, 'This guy, I don't want him.' It's a compliment. If it happens, my phone will ring and that'll be it. It hasn't rung, and I'm happy to be a Cub."

Garza made a grand entrance, delaying the game briefly in the first as he walked from the bullpen to the dugout.

"They gave me 20 minutes to get loose," Garza said. "If anything, that's their fault. They ran in at 7:15 to tell us they're starting at 7:30. We had to argue to say, 'That's not enough time to get loose.' I'm not going to mess up my system because they want to rush me to the mound in a makeup game. It's not like it was Game 7 and we'd been delayed three or four times."

There were reports Monday that the Cubs were talking to Garza about a possible long-term contract, but it's more likely that the right-hander will be dealt by the July 31 Trade Deadline. The key will be whether the Cubs get the top prospects they want in return. The Cubs have already been busy, trading Scott Feldman, Carlos Marmol, Steve Clevenger and Scott Hairston.

"[An extension] is always on the table," Garza said. "I voiced my opinion about how I love it here. My family loves it here. It's always something you think about. I don't know which route they're going to go."

How real is an extension?

"As real as a trade," Garza said. "Trades are just rumors like everything else. An extension talk, I'm part of, I know for a fact where it's at. It's always a possibility, man, 50-50.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to my decision if I want an extension, and a trade, it's obviously [the Cubs'] decision," he said. "I like being a Cub, I want to get this team to October and win it here. Like I've said before, it'd be one [heck] of a party. I'm just going to get ready for every five days."

So, what uniform is he wearing on Aug. 1?

"I'm hoping the Cubs, but I don't even look that far," Garza said. "What's today, the 8th? Probably the 13th will be the next day I look at."

There were at least eight scouts who waited out the 29-minute rain delay to see Garza. If nothing happens by Saturday, they'll probably be back at Wrigley Field to watch the right-hander's next start. Earlier in the day, the Cubs dealt Hairston to the Nationals, who were in need of a right-handed bat.

Who's next?

"You can't really worry about that," Anthony Rizzo said. "I'm sure it's in guys' heads. Whoever is here, whoever is in the lineup has to play that day. We have to continue to grow and get better and win."

Back to the game. Soriano doubled to lead off the second, stole third, and scored one batter later on Valbuena's sacrifice fly. Valbuena started as the designated hitter after Welington Castillo was scratched because he was ill. But Josh Phegley tied the game with his second big league home run with one out in the third.

Valbuena doesn't get many starts against a left-handed pitcher.

"It worked out," Sveum said. "I was battling over where I'm going to put him and I was like, 'I don't want to deal with the paperwork, so I'm going to leave him in the sixth spot.'"

Soriano led off the sixth with his 13th home run, marking the first time since 2006 he has homered and swiped two bases in one game. He's batting .381 in his last 10 games.

"It's been the Sori show the last 10 days or so," Sveum said. "We're playing real well without [Starlin] Castro and Rizzo doing a whole lot. Hopefully, they can get going real quick."

Gordon Beckham was on third and Alex Rios on first with two outs in the White Sox sixth, when Rios took off during Jeff Keppinger's at-bat. Dioner Navarro threw to second, but he one-hopped the throw, and Beckham safely stole home to tie the game at 2.

The Cubs scored five runs in the eighth on Valbuena's two-run double, Dave Sappelt's RBI single and Cody Ransom's two-run single. Sappelt added another RBI single in the ninth for a career-high four hits.

"In the eighth, it just got away," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's just one of those that you are kind of grinding on Garza. He pitched well."

The Cubs outscored the White Sox, 32-8, in the four games, and improved to 12-6 in Interleague play. They've won 10 of their last 16 games, yet also have been overhauling the roster with the early trades. The Cubs traded one starter when they sent Feldman to the Orioles. Garza could be next.

"That's why we went out and got the [Carlos] Villanuevas for the depth in case something like this happened, and [Scott] Baker is a few weeks away, as well as [Chris] Rusin and [Brooks] Raley waiting in the wings," Sveum said about the depth of starting pitchers on the 40-man roster. "Unfortunately, it's a business and we're in that part of our organization right now where things can happen." Comments