4/9 Quality starts a plus

Chris Volstad was unable to extend the streak of quality starts by Cubs pitchers on Monday. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija each pitched at least six innings in the first three Cubs games, which is a luxury. The last time Chicago had three straight quality starts to begin a season was 2001 when Jon Lieber, Kerry Wood and Kevin Tapani did so against the Expos.

“That’s a big strength of our team is the starting pitching,” Dale Sveum said. “You knew what you’re going to get from Dempster and Garza and for Samardzija to throw the ball like that was beyond any of our expectations. We knew he had a good spring, besides one hiccup, and [Sunday] it was phenomenal the way he threw the ball and located and got ahead in the counts.”

On Sunday, Samardzija went 8 2/3 innings against the Nationals and picked up the win in the longest outing of his career.

“It’s impressive,” Sveum said of his starters. “We all know that’s not going to happen on a daily basis.”

Volstad struck out six and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over five innings against the Brewers Monday night.

— Carrie Muskat

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