CHICAGO (AP) -Don't blame the new guys - Carlos Silva and Marlon Byrd - for the Chicago Cubs' awful start.
Silva is undefeated after beating the Florida Marlins 4-3 on Wednesday and helping the Cubs stop a four-game losing streak. Byrd, who drove in the go-ahead run with a fifth-inning double, leads the team in batting and RBIs.
Had their teammates been as proficient, a ballclub with a high payroll and great expectations wouldn't be 15-20.
``This is his third team and my fourth. We're veterans, so the transition is a little easier,' said Byrd, who has batted .400 over the last month to lift his average to .341. ``We came in here and everybody was ready for us to contribute, and that's what we're doing.'
While Byrd was signed as a free agent to play center field and hit in the middle of the lineup, the Cubs didn't know what to expect from Silva (4-0) - an expensive underachiever Seattle insisted they take in the Dec. 18 deal for troubled outfielder Milton Bradley.
The 31-year-old right-hander was an effective pitcher for Minnesota from 2004-07 but went 5-18 in two years with the Mariners.
``I feel good, not only because I'm 4-0. I feel good because I feel like I am somebody right now,' Silva said. ``My first year with Seattle was very tough, and last year I lost confidence. This year ... (the Cubs) were like, 'We're so happy you're here.' That gave me confidence, made me feel they were counting on me.'
Asked what he changed, he said: ``I trust myself a little more. Just throw the ball and forget about everything else.'
Silva threw 23 of 27 pitches for strikes in the first three innings as the Cubs went ahead on Mike Fontenot's two-run double. The Marlins tied it on Ronny Paulino's two-run single in the fourth but Silva, who allowed seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, otherwise pitched out of trouble.
Offense, not pitching, has been the Cubs' primary problem. In losing seven of their previous eight games, they scored 14 runs in the victory but totaled 14 in the seven defeats.
This time, they got just enough to beat Chris Volstad (3-3). He allowed four runs in six innings, the first time in 11 games a Florida starter gave up more than three runs.
``I didn't have my best stuff but I felt pretty good,' Volstad said. ``We won the series, which is good, but a sweep would have been nice.'
Florida still is looking for its first three-game winning streak.
Kosuke Fukudome drew a one-out walk in the fifth, Starlin Castro singled and Byrd doubled for his 24th RBI. Castro then scored on a wild pitch when Paulino, the catcher, was unable to glove the ball just before it hit the dirt.
``My mistake,' Volstad said. ``I threw a changeup and it was supposed to be a curve.'
Florida had two men on in the seventh but didn't score, as Sean Marshall induced pinch-hitter Wes Helms to ground into a double play. The Marlins put two on against Carlos Zambrano in the eighth before Carlos Marmol struck out pinch-hitter John Baker.
They finally scored in the ninth on Brian Barden's two-out pinch single. After Gaby Sanchez followed with a single, Marmol fanned All-Star Hanley Ramirez for his fifth save.
``He's a very good hitter, as everybody knows,' Marmol said. ``What can I say? I struck him out. That's what they pay me for.'
NOTES: Fontenot made an error in his first start at 2B since May 7, when Ryan Theriot was switched from SS to accommodate the hyped arrival of Castro from Double-A. ... Though the 20-year-old Castro doesn't have any RBIs since he drove in six in his memorable debut, he has hit safely in each of his six games for a .364 average. He had two singles Wednesday while batting second in place of Theriot, who sat out with hamstring tightness. Manager Lou Piniella said Castro would return to the No. 8 spot Friday if Theriot can play. ... It was 45 degrees and thick fog hovered over the ballpark. ``I can't wait to get off the plane and start sweating,' Florida's Jorge Cantu said. ``I'm not a fan of the cold.'... After hitting .123 in his first 13 games, Marlins LF Chris Coghlan is batting .309 in his last 16. Still, manager Fredi Gonzalez used Helms to pinch-hit for Coghlan against LHP Marshall. ... Florida CF Cameron Maybin was given the day off after hurting his left wrist when he crashed into the brick wall while making a catch Tuesday. He said he felt fine.
The Associated Press News Service
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