CHICAGO | You can say Matt Garza is in a win-win-win situation.
The emotional Cubs right-hander picked up his fifth victory of the season Monday as he held the reeling White Sox in check while his lineup backed him with a five-run eighth.
The 8-2 Cubs’ victory ensured the first-ever series sweep in the 17-year history of the crosstown series, the North Siders winning all four games.
Garza also made himself even more marketable to both his own employers and potential Cubs trade partners as he's one of the hottest starters on the market.
Yielding five hits and one earned run with six strikeouts in seven innings, Garza has been sizzling over his last five starts. He has given up 24 hits and four earned runs in 37 innings.
Reports circulated before the game that Cubs management re-opened talks about a new contract for free-agent-to-be Garza. Instead of dealing Garza, the Cubs could opt to build a Big Three starting core of Garza, Valparaiso native Jeff Samardzija and All-Star lefty Travis Wood.
Garza said a new contract "is always on the table." He rated the chances of a new deal "50-50 ... I think it's in both of our hands.
"I like being a Cub," he said. "My kids like it here. The possibility of staying is awesome."
The starting rotation, whose best works often have been thwarted by a flammable bullpen, has made the 39-48 Cubs more competitive this season than the 101-loss disaster of 2012.
The Cubs have gone 21-18 since May 26, after going 18-30 to start the season.
“I think the way we’ve been playing games, we’ve been in pretty much every game we’ve played and had the opportunity to win the game, which is all you can ask for,” said Samardzija.
“It’s definitely a good mentality this team has. The way we come to play each day is impressive.”
Garza was backed by Luis Valbuena’s two-run double and RBI singles by Cody Ransom and Dave Sappelt in the eighth. Alfonso Soriano continued his hot streak with his 13th homer, a double, a single and two stolen bases.
Meanwhile, the Sox could not stop their endless nosedive. They are 10-28 since achieving the .500 mark on May 26. After lefty starter Hector Santiago had another competitive start over 5 1/3 innings, the Sox forged a 2-2 tie against Garza in the sixth on a double steal, with Gordon Beckham swiping home on the play.
Beckham batted second as manager Robin Ventura desperately shuffled a broken lineup.
“He did it (Sunday),” Ventura said. “The way he’s swinging, you put him in there and let him go. He’s having good at-bats and a good approach. I think it’s a good spot for him.
“Alexei (Ramirez) can go down there (to No. 7) for RBI stuff. That’s probably something that’s been missing for him lately. Being in the two-hole, (Ramirez) has not really had that many opportunities.
“When (Beckham’s) healthy, he’s been hitting it to right field. That’s why you see his average the way it is. He’s had consistent at-bats and putting the barrel on it the other way. It’s (No. 2) a good spot for him.”