Garza wins before Cubs' opening day pitcher named

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Matt Garza made his final start Thursday before the Chicago Cubs announce who will be their opening-day starter against the Nationals.

Manager Dale Sveum said the suspense would end Friday, a “contest” generally believed to be between Garza and Ryan Dempster, who pitched the opener last year.

Garza faced the Rangers on Thursday and allowed three unearned runs in five innings in an 11-4 victory. He struck out three and walked three.

Sveum gave many of his regulars the afternoon off, but did have Darwin Barney leading off and making a rare start at shortstop, and Alfonso Soriano batting third.

Barney made two errors in the fourth inning that led to the three unearned runs off Garza. Soriano clubbed his Cactus League leading fifth homer in the fifth to give Garza a 6-3 lead. Ian Stewart also hit his first homer as a Cub and rookie Brett Jackson hit his second.

Joe Mather, who is trying to make the Cubs as a bench player, starts in center field, his team-high 15th game this spring. He has played five different positions, including center field Thursday and is batting .421 with three more hits. Twitter @davandyck

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