4/12 Cubs 8, Brewers 0

Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run single to highlight a six-run third inning and lift the Cubs to an 8-0 win over the Brewers on Thursday. Matt Garza benefitted from the offense. The right-hander held Milwaukee to three hits over 8 2/3 innings for his first win of the year. Steve Clevenger doubled to open the third and scored on Reed Johnson’s single. One out later, the Cubs rattled off five straight hits, including Soriano’s two-run single. The six runs that inning were more than the Cubs had scored in any game this year. All eight runs came off Zack Greinke (1-1).

Garza nearly finished the game, getting the first two outs of the ninth. He then fielded pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki’s grounder and threw to first, or at least that was the plan. The ball sailed into the stands behind first baseman Bryan LaHair.

“We might have witnessed the greatest worst throw of all time,” Dale Sveum said.

“I got it, saw LaHair and went, ‘Son of a gun,’” Garza said. “It slipped out. [Darn] it.”

Garza was mad at himself after the game and let anyone in the tunnel behind the Cubs dugout know.

Garza did admit he was off a little bit at the start of the game and asked Ryan Dempster for help after the second inning. Dempster saw something, Garza agreed and made the change.

Now, the Cubs go to St. Louis, and the Cardinals will be celebrating their World Championship.

“I think we should be more [ticked] off because we could’ve knocked them out of the playoffs last year in the second to last series and we kind of handed it over,” Garza said. “I think it should be more motivation than anything.”

For the game, Garza threw 119 pitches. Sveum was OK leaving Garza in that long because the starters will get an extra day with Monday’s off day.

Extra bases:

* The Cubs were more productive. They finished 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position; they were 7-for-50 in their six previous games. Before Thursday’s six-run, seven-hit third, the last time the Cubs totaled seven hits in an inning was Aug. 30, 2010, against the Pirates. The last time they scored six runs in an inning was last May 11 against the Cardinals.

“The bottom line is getting hits with guys in scoring position and keeping the line moving,” Sveum said. “It’s not how many hits you get, it’s when you get them.”

* Alfonso Soriano leads the Cubs with six RBIs in seven games, and was hitting .304. The difference? Soriano said he appreciated how Sveum and the Cubs management treated him from the first meeting in Spring Training.

“They showed me respect,” Soriano said.

* Starlin Castro has reached safely in his last three games.

* The Cubs are 2-5, and have had a lead in six of their games, including four leads going into the seventh inning.

“I think we’ve been playing really well,” Garza said. “We’ve had a couple nights where we haven’t had the best luck but I’ll take the way we’re playing over anything now. The record might not show it but we’re playing good baseball. We’re running out balls, we’re making other teams panic, our pitching is throwing strikes, that’s good baseball right there. The hits and the offense will come. As long as we keep pitching and play defense, I think we’ll be all right.”

* On Friday in St. Louis, Jeff Samardzija faces Adam Wainwright in the opener of a three-game series against the Cardinals. First pitch scheduled for 2:15 p.m. CT.

– Carrie Muskat

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