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SD@CHC: Garza fans nine in six scoreless frames

If the good Matt Garza shows up Monday night, the Cubs will extend one of the weirdest starts to any of their seasons. And because there have been 135 before this one, you know it must be pretty bizarre.

Trust us: The Cubs are 10-11 after their Sunday loss to the Dodgers, and a victory in the series opener with Colorado would square the Cubs' record. Again.

So far, Mike Quade's Cubbies have hit the .500 mark at every possible rung. They have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10.

Never happened before.

That pattern leaves the Cubs as one of only two teams to neither have won nor lost more than two straight games this season (the other is the Yankees).

In addition to wins and losses, here is something else the Cubs have alternated: leadoff batters. You can almost bank on Starlin Castro being back atop the lineup Monday night.

The last three times that Castro has led off, the Cubs have won. The last three times he has not, the Cubs have lost, including Sunday, when No. 3 hitter Castro went 0-for-4.

But that 7-3 defeat to the Dodgers certainly wasn't alternate leadoff hitter Kosuke Fukudome's fault. The right fielder went 2-for-5, adding fuel to his fast start while validating his rank as the Majors' best active April hitter.

Still, Quade may not want to snub the karma of leading off with the player off to the most prolific start for a Cubs player in three quarters of a century.

The Cubs manager is apt to make out lineups based on matchups but, as he said, "The book matters to me, but it ain't the Bible."

Castro's 35 hits through Saturday were the most for the Cubs through 20 games since Frank Demaree had 36 and Billy Herman had 35 -- both in 1936. In the context of Castro's position, only two shortstops have had comparable getaways since 1920: Lyn Lary with 39 hits in 1937 with the Indians and Arky Vaughan with 35 hits in 1935 with the Pirates.

That's quite a bit for Colorado starter Esmil Rogers to think about: Castro hasn't yet had consecutive hitless games this season.

And here's something for Garza to think about, as he focuses on notching his first victory with the Cubs: Should he find himself flirting with a no-hitter later in Monday's game, be wary of Dexter Fowler; or, at the very least, don't jam Fowler with a pitch.

While the Marlins were breaking the Rockies' momentum by taking two out of three in Miami, Fowler broke up the routine of both defeats. He also broke bats while breaking up no-hitters: He ruined Anibal Sanchez's Friday bid with a broken-bat leadoff single in the ninth and did it to Josh Johnson on Sunday with a broken-bat double in the sixth.

Rockies: Iannetta eyes return
• Catcher Chris Iannetta hopes to return for Monday's game after sitting out the last two in Miami with a stiff back.

• Todd Helton, who rested Sunday, needs two doubles to tie Lou Gehrig for 30th place on the all-time list with 534.

Cubs: Fukudome reigns in April
• Fukudome leads all active players (minimum 300 plate appearances) with a lifetime April average of .339 (92-for-271).

Worth noting
The Rockies may be longing for the old days of Wrigley Field, when all games were afternoon affairs. Colorado has been one of the National League's most successful teams in day action the last couple of years, and had won seven consecutive day games prior to Sunday's loss in Florida. Two night games will precede Wednesday's series finale against the Cubs. Comments