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ARI@CHC: Garza dominant over seven shutout innings

The Cubs entered Friday 5-1 in their last six games, while the Cardinals returned from a road trip 1-5. That didn't stop St. Louis from taking the first game of the series, putting the Cubs at risk of losing their first series Saturday since being swept by Arizona from June 22-24.

Busch Stadium hasn't been kind to the Cubs, who have dropped 11 of their last 15 games in St. Louis. Saturday's starter Matt Garza will also have to overcome his road woes for the Cubs, who are 14-6 in their last 20 games, to salvage the series.

Garza is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA in seven home starts and 2-6 with a 5.67 ERA away from Wrigley Field. He's coming off a win at home against the Diamondbacks, in which he tossed seven shutout frames. The entire Cubs rotation has been in a groove over the last few weeks, and Garza said after his last start that nobody wants to let anyone else down in the rotation.

"You don't want to be that guy," Garza said. "So you just keep going and keep pounding strikes."

Garza will face the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook, who's 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in two home starts against the Cubs this season.

The Cardinals scored just two runs in each of Westbrook's last two appearances and hit just .249 as a team during their last road trip. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in a 4-3 loss Wednesday vs. Milwaukee. A trip home may rejuvenate the club, though it still went 2-for-9 in the win Friday.

Despite the recent skid, the Cardinals pitching staff has allowed five runs or fewer in every game in July.

"Here for a while, our starting pitching has been outstanding and given us a chance," said manager Mike Matheny. "One of the components that's been missing is our offense, and it just shouldn't be for long periods of time. They're going to score runs, and hopefully we have the pitching to keep us there when that does come around."

Cardinals: Fuentes makes first appearance
• Pitcher Brian Fuentes debuted with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, tossing a scoreless inning Friday.

The 36-year-old, four-time All-Star allowed a single before forcing a double play and a groundout. Fuentes has an opt-out clause if he's not in the Major Leagues by July 31.

• Jaime Garcia, who has been out since June 6 with a left shoulder impingement, is scheduled to throw a third bullpen session Saturday.

Cubs:Sveum wants team to finish .500
• Despite a record of 38-54 on July 20, manager Dale Sveum's goal is to finish the season at .500.

"There's no reason having a goal if it's not set high," Sveum said Friday. "To get there, it's going to be tough, obviously, to play 23 games over .500 to get to .500, but that's a goal."

• The Cubs signed 22-year-old pitcher Juan Carlos Paniagua to a $1.5 million contract.

Worth Noting:
• Ryan Dempster's 33 scoreless-innings streak ended in the first inning Friday, when the Cardinals scored three runs.

• Darwin Barney's errorless streak at second base is at 78 games. Comments