Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster are expected to carry the top of the Chicago Cubs' rotation. It's been a rough start.
Garza allowed five runs on eight hits in a 6-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night — leaving the three starters a combined 1-3 with a 5.87 ERA in six starts.
"I don't think you judge the group of pitchers that we're counting on by two starts at the beginning of the season. That's for damn sure," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "Demp will be better, I'm convinced of that, Garz' will get settled and he'll be better and I think Z will be OK. Z pitched really well in his first outing and he got us through a game when he wasn't pitching as well last game.
"I wouldn't be quite as critical of them at this point and they all have good history. I'm not talking about three young kids we can't count on. And guess what, if they don't pitch well, we're going to struggle, and they know that."
Garza (0-1) couldn't get past Prince Fielder, who drove in four runs with a career-high three doubles despite Garza twice putting the slugger in two-strike holes.
"I'm a fastball guy, six of their eight hits ... were breaking ball pitches or offspeed pitches," Garza said. "That's uncalled for. That's not my style, that's not who I am and something's going to change. I haven't had bad outings, I just don't give up (21) hits in two games, that's not me."
Chris Narveson (1-0) pitched seven shutout innings for the Brewers. He struck out nine and ran his scoreless streak to 13 innings over his first two starts after working out of trouble multiple times.
Narveson, who struggled in the first inning all last year, got the first two Cubs to begin his start before running into his toughest situation of the night.
He allowed a double to Marlon Byrd, then struck out Aramis Ramirez on a wild pitch that allowed Ramirez to reach first without a throw. After a walk to Geovany Soto to load the bases, he struck out Carlos Pena to end the inning.
Milwaukee's defense also made several key plays to support the 29-year-old left-hander.
In the second, Morgan made a leaping catch of Soriano's leadoff shot to left-center field and strong plays ended the fourth and fifth innings with multiple runners on base. Soriano hit into a double play in the fourth and Braun ran down a shallow fly ball from Byrd in left field to end the fifth.
Chicago finished 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
"We didn't do any damage in that first inning and it was a long inning for the kid, and if you could've punched a run or two across there, that might have changed things," Quade said.
Fielder doubled in his first three at-bats in the first, third and fifth innings against Garza (0-1) as Milwaukee built a 5-0 lead. Still, Garza said there's no reason for the Cubs to sweat yet.
"We are, I believe, eight games into the season. There are 154 more. I highly doubt any of us are pressing right now. It's not September. It's barely the second week of the season. There is no pressure, there's no pressing," Garza said. "Me, Z and Demp, we're going to go out and do our job. Tonight, I didn't do my job. My job is to go deep in the game and I didn't. I threw way too many pitches and gave up way too many hits."