MESA, Ariz. -- Carlos Silva had something to prove, and time was running out.
Having a terrible spring training so far, it was essential he impressed his manager Wednesday. After giving up a leadoff hit and a one-out RBI double to Josh Willingham, Silva did just that. He turned it around, retiring 17-of-18 and leading the Chicago Cubs over the Oakland Athletics 3-1."I didn't want to walk out the door the way I was pitching," said Silva, who is competing with Braden Looper and Andrew Cashner for the final spot in the rotation.The right-hander came in with a 15.88 ERA, but allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He also had three strikeouts in what should be his last appearance before manager Mike Quade finalizes his pitching staff.Silva had allowed 20 earned runs in his previous 11 1/3 innings."This means the decisions remain tough and we are thrilled to death that guys are making it tough," said manager Mike Quade, who mentioned earlier in the day he wants a final decision by Saturday. "I was glad Silva threw the ball well."Silva, who is 62-69 in his career as a starter, was grateful for another chance knowing that he could have been taken out of the competition based on his previous results."I needed this game," he said. "I don't know what the decision is going to be but I needed this for my confidence. When they tell me I am in competition for the fifth spot I am going to fight."Quade said he plans on waiting as long as possible to make a decision and the players need to understand that they have a chance until then.Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out six. Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano had RBI singles in the first inning."I was working on a couple of changeups in certain counts," Gonzalez said. "There is stuff I am still working on and I wanted to get the runs out of the way now."
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez played for the first time since coming down with a 102 degree fever over the weekend and went 0-for-1 with a walk. The Cubs cut four players from camp as right-handed reliever Justin Berg and left-handed reliever Scott Maine were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Non-roster invitees right-handed reliever Angel Guzman and right-handed starter Todd Wellemeyer were sent to minor league camp. Starter Carlos Zambrano started against Arizona's Triple-A team and threw 82 pitches in four innings.