CHICAGO – 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 RBI.
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.”
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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 out 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 innings, otherwise pitched out of trouble.
Offense has been the Cubs’ problem. In losing seven of their previous eight, they scored 14 runs in the lone win but totaled 14 in the seven defeats.