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03/16/10 7:50 PM ET

'Fired up' Silva shines in third start

Cubs righty delivers after learning mom is US-bound

MESA, Ariz. -- Carlos Silva got good news on Tuesday from his mother, and the Cubs got an even better report on the right-hander.

Silva had his strongest outing this spring, giving up two hits over four scoreless innings in the Cubs' 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers in front of 13,157, the fourth-largest crowd in HoHoKam Park's history.

Silva always sends a message to his mother before and after he pitches, but earlier Tuesday, he got a long-awaited phone call from Venezuela. His mother, Zulay, was granted a 10-year visa. Now, she'll be able to come to Chicago to watch her son pitch.

"That was a big headache the last couple years," Silva said. "She had been getting denied, denied, denied. I think that's why I was fired up today."

Another reason could be that all the lessons with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild appear to be paying off.

"That's as well as I've seen him throw all spring," manager Lou Piniella said. "He got ahead in the count, you saw him elevate pitches, you saw him pitch inside, he had a good changeup. That's a nice performance today. He kept his velocity up for the full four innings. He should be really pleased -- I know we were."

"It's good to see the results," Silva said.

Among other changes, the Cubs want Silva to throw more across his body and finish toward third base. After the last side session, Rothschild told Silva to take what they had been working on into a game and have fun.

"Today, before the game, he said, 'Don't worry about anything, just fire the ball up in there,'" Silva said. "That's exactly what I did today, and we had good results."

After giving up six runs on seven hits over two innings in his first outing on March 6, Silva now has not given up a run over his past seven innings. The right-hander is vying for a spot in the rotation and hoping to erase the last two seasons in Seattle, where he struggled with his shoulder and was a combined 5-18.

"The last two years haven't been easy for me," Silva said. "If I started counting, everything I was doing or everything I was worried about was never going to end. It was a very tough two years. This is a fresh start, this is a new start. I feel very comfortable with this team. The only thing I have to do is my work. That's it."

After his last outing March 11, Silva said he was excited. He was really pumped on Tuesday.

"I have to talk to my mother before the game and after the game," Silva said. "If I showed you the message I sent to her, I said, 'The way I feel today I haven't felt for a long, long time.' The last game was good. I still have to work more. Today, I felt like it was me. I threw the sinker the way I wanted to throw it. I used my breaking ball, and my changeup was good today. I had good command."

Piniella has said he hopes to have the rotation sorted out by March 25. Right-hander Jeff Samardzija, another candidate, will throw in the Minor League camp on Wednesday. Southpaw Tom Gorzelanny threw a simulated game on Tuesday. Sean Marshall, the other lefty candidate, has given up two runs over seven innings in three starts.

Silva has been a starter the last six years; he was a reliever in his first two seasons in the big leagues with Philadelphia in 2002-03. Does it matter?

"Like I said the other day, I don't worry about being in the rotation," he said. "I'm very competitive. I want to be in the rotation -- that's what I'm working for. I want to keep working on my stuff, keep working with Larry, keep working in the [side sessions]. The only thing I want to do is help this team, no matter where, as a starter or reliever.

"These four guys fighting right now for two spots in the starting rotation, for me, you could pick anybody. They're really good."

The Cubs, though, are going to pick two.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.