Samardzija Sizzles as Cubs Power Past the Braves – Cubs 5, Braves 1

Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 5, Braves 1
WP – Jeff Samardzija (4-1) LP – Tommy Hanson (3-3) Save – None

wflag.jpgJeff Samardzija allowed one run to the best offense in the National League and home runs by Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto accounted for four of the Cubs’ five runs Monday night. The Cubs played a complete game again and won on back-to-back days for the second time this season.

Jeff Samardzija was very, very good once again. Samardzija held the Braves to one run on five hits with two walks, a HBP and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Samardzija made only one mistake and Jason Heyward deposited it into the bleachers in right. Samardzija was not as sharp as he was in his last outing against the Reds but was facing a much better lineup. The Braves ran up his pitch count early but Samardzija was still able to complete seven innings. Samardzija threw 105 pitches, 66 for strikes, in route to his fourth win of the season.

Carlos Marmol pitched his way in and out of trouble in the eighth. Marmol walked the first two batters he faced before falling behind Freddie Freeman. It was painful to watch because Marmol looked defeated on the mound. Marmol was able to get out of the jam after Freddie Freeman smoked a 3-1 pitch back up the middle to a perfectly positioned Starlin Castro. Marmol found a groove after a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring position. Marmol struck out Brian McCann and Dan Uggla to end the eighth and left the field pounding his chest and screaming at himself. Marmol threw 25 pitches in the eighth, 13 for strikes.

James Russell retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close it out for Jeff Samardzija.

The team that could not buy a home run early in the season has now hit 13 longballs in the last 12 games. Bryan LaHair (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk, reached base safely in 25 straight games) and Ian Stewart (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) hit back-to-back jacks off Tommy Hanson in the fourth that gave the Cubs the lead. LaHair’s eighth dinger of the season tied the game at one and Stewart’s third gave Samardzija a lead.

Geovany Soto (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit his third homer of the season in the eighth that put the game away.

Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a RBI) added a big two out run scoring single in the seventh that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Tony Campana (2-for-4 with a double) added two more hits, including his third double in two games.

The Cubs defense was solid again and the positioning by the coaching staff continues to pay big dividends. The Cubs turned two double plays Monday night with the biggest coming in the seventh. With the Cubs up 2-1, two on and one out in the seventh, Bryan LaHair caught a liner off the bat of Eric Hinske that off the bat appeared to be a double down the line. LaHair doubled off Heyward at second to end the inning.

Fredi Gonzalez was ejected in the seventh inning by homeplate umpire Chris Conroy after he warned both benches in response to Eric O’Flaherty hitting David DeJesus in retaliation for Jeff Samardzija hitting Jason Heyward in the top of the inning.

With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 12-17 on the season …

Jeff Samardzija looked sharp in the first inning. Samardzija struck out Michael Bourn swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the game. Martin Prado grounded out to second but Freddie Freeman took several close pitches and worked a two-out walk. Brian McCann struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the first. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Tommy Hanson in the bottom of the first.

Samardzija started the second by striking out Dan Uggla looking and retiring Chipper Jones on a groundout to second. Jason Heyward stepped in and lifted a 1-1 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right. Heyward towering blast gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. Samardzija knew he made a mistake when he released the ball and reacted as such when Heyward launched his fourth homer of the season. Samardzija fell behind Tyler Pastornicky 2-0. The Braves’ shortstop rapped Samardzija’s next pitch into left.

Tommy Hanson struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the second, 12 for strikes, and after two his pitch count stood at 40, 24 for strikes.

Bryan LaHair led off the second for the Cubs and crushed Hanson’s first pitch. The ball held up, Michael Bourn caught the ball in deep center for the first out. On any other day or night, the ball is long gone.

Ian Stewart walked on four pitches and Reed Johnson was hit on the back of his shoulder. With runners on first and second with one out, Darwin Barney hit a 1-2 pitch to short … 6-4-3 double play, inning over.

Michael Bourn led off the third with an infield single to the hole at short (3-2 pitch). The Braves continued making Samardzija work. Martin Prado hit a 0-2 pitch to short. Castro started a 6-4-3 double play. Freddie Freeman grounded out to first (1-1 pitch) to end the third. After three, Samardzija had thrown 56 pitches, 36 for strikes.

Geovany Soto crushed a 2-1 pitch from Hanson to start the third … but Michael Bourn tracked the ball down in left center for the first out. Bourn is one of those players that have their better games at the Cubs’ expense. Samardzija grounded out to third. David DeJesus worked a two-out walk and Tony Campana lashed Hanson’s first pitch down the right field line for a double … the Cubs’ first hit.

With runners on second and third with two down, Starlin Castro flied out to right (0-1 pitch) to end the inning. Castro ended his sixth inning in two days and after his two-run knock in the third inning Sunday, Castro was 0-for-his-last-4 with RISP.

Other than a two-out single by Chipper Jones, the Braves did nothing in the fourth. Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 68 after four, 42 for strikes.

Bryan LaHair led off the bottom of the fourth and yanked Hanson’s first pitch to the bleachers in right. LaHair’s eighth home run tied the game at one. Ian Stewart stepped in and lined a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in right … and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead on the back-to-back jacks by Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart. First time the Cubs hit homers in consecutive at bats this season.

Reed Johnson just missed hitting the third home run in as many at bats. Johnson flied out to Martin Prado near the ivy in left center for the first out. After Darwin Barney struck out, Geovany Soto singled to center. Samardzija grounded out to third to end the inning.

After four, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead.

Samardzija retired Pastornicky (grounded out to third) and Hanson (struck out swinging) quickly to start the fifth. Michael Bourn put together another long at bat and walked. Bourn took off for second on a 0-2 pitch to Martin Prado. Bourn slid in safe but Prado grounded out to third on Samardzija’s next pitch to end the inning.

David DeJesus grounded out to short to start the fifth. After Campana hit a routine grounder to second, Starlin Castro reached on a single to the hole at short. The ball got under Pastornicky’s glove and trickled into left. Castro took off for second on a 2-2 offering to LaHair … but LaHair could not check his swing on a ball in the dirt and struck out to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Braves in order in the sixth. Samardzija struck out McCann and Uggla swinging to end the inning. After six, Samardzija had thrown 98 pitches, 62 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Hanson in the bottom of the sixth.

Jeff Samardzija started the seventh and retired Chipper Jones with one pitch. Jones grounded out to second. But the inning started to unravel after that … but the Cubs were able to dodge a bullet.

Samardzija plunked Jason Heyward in the back with a 94 MPH fastball. Pastornicky followed with a single to right and the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Fredi Gonzalez went to his bench and sent Eric Hinske up to hit for Tommy Hanson.

Hinske smoked a 1-1 pitch toward first. The ball caught LaHair, who alertly threw to Castro and doubled off Heyward to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija threw seven pitches in the seventh, four for strikes, and departed with a 2-1 lead after 105 pitches, 66 for strikes.

Eric O’Flaherty started the bottom of the seventh and retired Soto (first pitch) on a grounder to short. Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija and grounded out to second.

After missing on two straight inside pitches, Flaherty finally got the job done and hit David DeJesus. Homeplate umpire Chris Conroy warned both benches, Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue and was ejected from the game.

The Braves retaliation ended up costing them a run.

Tony Campana dropped down a perfect bunt and pushed it past the mound. Campana made it easily and gave Starlin Castro a chance to give the Cubs a little breathing room.

Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch into left center. DeJesus scored and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead. With runners on first and third with two down, Bryan LaHair walked to load the bases. Ian Stewart struck out swinging to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen and predictably walked Michael Bourn (3-2 pitch) and Martin Prado (four pitches) to start the inning. Marmol then fell behind Freddie Freeman 2-0. Marmol got a fastball over for a strike then Freeman crushed a 3-1 pitch back up the middle. Castro was positioned perfectly, caught the ball and nearly doubled off Bourn from second.

On a 0-1 pitch to Brian McCann, Bourn took off for third. Marmol uncorked a wild pitch and the tying runs ended up at second and third with one out.

Carlos Marmol channeled his inner 2008 season and struck out McCann looking for the second out … then ended the inning by striking out Dan Uggla swinging on a 0-2 pitch. Marmol pounded his chest while screaming as he made his way to the dugout. Dale Sveum greeted him with a big smile on his face.

Chad Durbin took over in the bottom of the eighth and retired Johnson on a routine grounder to third. Darwin Barney reached on an infield single to the hole at short … then trotted home when Geovany Soto crushed Durbin’s first pitch. Soto’s third homer of the season ended up near the batter’s eye in center and gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead. Adrian Cardenas made his big league debut and lined out to second (1-2 pitch). DeJesus grounded out to short to end the eighth.

James Russell took the hill in the ninth with a 5-1 lead.

Chipper Jones doubled to right center to start the ninth. Russell then struck out Heyward swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Somehow, Tony Campana saw and caught a fly to deep left center off the bat of Tyler Pastornicky for the second out in the ninth. Matt Diaz hit for Chad Durbin and stuck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the 27th out … Cubs Win!

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Randall Delgado in game two Tuesday night.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver