Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro, right, is greeted by teammate Aramis Ramirez (16) while returning to the dugout after hitting a solo-home run off Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chris Resop in the eighth inning.
Starlin Castro homered and Matt Garza pitched seven shutout innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 1-0 win over the sliding Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Castro's solo homer leading off the eighth inning made a winner of Garza (5-8) as he combined on a four-hit shutout with Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol, who worked the ninth for his 22nd save.
Castro hit a full-count pitch over the left-field fence off Chris Resop (3-3) for his fourth home run of the season to give the Cubs their first four-game winning streak of 2011. The shortstop went 3 for 4 and is 9 for 14 in the first three games of the four-game series.
Garza was lifted after walking pinch-hitter Matt Diaz to start the eighth. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out seven for his first win in seven starts.
Marshall retired all three batters he faced in relief of Garza, leaving pinch-runner Xavier Paul stranded at second base when Neil Walker hit an inning-ending lineout. Marmol hit Derrek Lee with a pitch to start the ninth but escaped by striking out the final two batters.
Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He has a 1.97 ERA in nine starts against NL Central opponents this season.
The Cubs' Carlos Pena reached base in all four plate appearances with two doubles and two walks. Darwin Barney also had two hits. Castro, Pena and Barney combined for all seven Chicago hits, while the rest of the lineup went 0 for 22.
Pedro Alvarez had two of Pittsburgh's four hits but struck out in a nine-pitch at-bat against Marmol in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on second. The Pirates were shut out for the ninth time.
Pittsburgh's best threat against Garza came in the first inning when Andrew McCutchen led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a groundout. However, Lee lined out to shortstop to end the threat.
Chicago's best chances against Morton came in the second and sixth innings.
Pena doubled to lead off the second but was left stranded at second base. The Cubs then loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth before Marlon Byrd grounded out.
Copyright Associated Press