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Coming off break, Cubs closing in on .500

DENVER -- It has been a slow climb, but as they return from the All-Star Break, the Cubs are within sight of the .500 mark.

Since opening the season 18-30, Chicago has gone 24-21 over its last 45 games and taken six of its last nine. Though Matt Garza may soon be out of a Cubs uniform, the team's starting pitching has been among the National League's most consistent with 57 quality starts.

The primary issue, as Cubs manager Dale Sveum pointed out, has come at the plate.

No. 3 hitter Anthony Rizzo has been productive in his first full Major League season with a .241 average, 13 homers and 54 RBIs entering Friday. Behind him, left fielder Alfonso Soriano has been perhaps the Cubs' biggest first-half surprise, hitting .259 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs in the cleanup spot.

And while it may look like another rebuilding year for Chicago, Sveum is ready for his club to cross over into the right side of the win-loss column.

"It's important to get back to .500 and above," Sveum said. "We have the starting pitching to be able to do that, if [Starlin] Castro, Rizzo can swing the bats like they're capable of for the second half and Soriano stays hot, you're capable of doing a lot of things like that."

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for
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