Samardzija Does It All – Cubs 6, Rockies 3

Game Forty – Cubs 6, Rockies 3

WP – Jeff Samardzija (2-5) LP – Jon Garland (3-4) Save – None

wflag-pubJeff Samardzija led the way on the mound and at the plate as the Cubs beat the Rockies on Wednesday night and took the series from Colorado.

Jeff Samardzija survived a shaky second inning and some early command problems in route to his first victory since Opening Day. Not only did Samardzija limit a very good offense to two runs over eight innings but the first home run of his career at Wrigley Field ended up being the game winner.

With the game tied at one in the second inning, Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a double, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored) reached on a two out double. Jeff Samardzija launched Jon Garland’s first pitch into the bleachers in left center. Samardzija gave himself a two-run cushion with the second homer of his big league career. Samardzija went 1-for-2 at the plate with a home run, two RBI and a sac bunt.

Jeff Samardzija shut the Rockies down after the second inning. Samardzija retired nine in a row before giving up a solo homer to pinch hitter Reid Brignac leading off the sixth. Samardzija completed eight innings on Wednesday night, his longest outing since Opening Day, and allowed two runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Samardzija threw 105 pitches, 63 for strikes.

The Cubs tacked on three runs in the seventh on singles by Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) and Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a walk) and a groundout by Alfonso Soriano (0-for-4 with a RBI).

David DeJesus (2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored) gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his fifth home run of the year. DeJesus has led off two games this season with a home run.

The Rockies last run came in the ninth against Kevin Gregg. Colorado cut the Cubs lead to 6-3 after Gregg became the fifth different Cubs’ pitcher to be charged with an error this season. The Rockies brought the tying run to the plate but Wilin Rosario hit a sinking liner to center that DeJesus caught while sliding on his knees to end the game.

The Cubs defense really stepped up behind Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday night. Darwin Barney took a hit away from Carlos Gonzalez with a terrific play on a ball ticketed for center field. And in the seventh with the Cubs clinging to a one-run lead, Josh Rutledge pulled a 1-1 pitch from Samardzija over Soriano’s head in left and high off the wall. Alfonso Soriano played the carom perfectly, threw a strike to Castro, who made a perfect relay to Barney to nail Rutledge at second to end the inning.

The Cubs are now 12-7 in games in which they score first. With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 17-23 on the season (12-10 in the last 22), percentage points ahead of the last place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

After Jeff Samardzija retired the Rockies in the first inning on nine pitches, five for strikes, David DeJesus gave him a 1-0 lead with his fifth homer of the season. Castro grounded out to short for the first out. Anthony Rizzo drove a 2-1 pitch to left. The ball hit off the top of the vines, just missed leaving the park, and Rizzo ended up at second with a double. Alfonso Soriano pulled a 2-2 pitch toward the third baseline. Nolan Arenado fielded the ball and bluffed his throw to first. Rizzo bit and broke for third too soon. Arenado ran Rizzo back toward second and tagged him out. Jon Garland caught Schierholtz looking to end the inning.

The Rockies tied the game in the second as Samardzija dealt with command issues. Samardzija struggled with his location. When he missed his spots, he missed them badly. Tulowitzki grounded out to short for the first out (2-1 pitch). Samardzija then walked Todd Helton on four pitches. Nolan Arenado followed with a single to left center. Soriano did an excellent job of cutting the ball off, keeping Helton from scoring and holding Arenado at first. Josh Rutledge stepped in and drove a 1-1 pitch into right. Helton scored and tied the game at one. Helton held at second with one out. Yorvit Torrealba pulled a 2-0 pitch to Valbuena at third … and Valbuena started the 5-4-3 inning ending double play.

Jeff Samardzija needed 24 pitches, 11 for strikes, to complete two innings on Wednesday night.

Luis Valbuena led off the second with a single into shallow left center. Dioner Navarro worked a full count and Valbuena broke with the pitch. Navarro took the inside pitch that was called a strike. Valbuena quit running as he appeared to think ball four had been called. Tulowitzki tagged him out for the second out.

Darwin Barney stepped in with two down and pulled a 2-1 pitch into left. Barney ended up at second with a two-out double. Jeff Samardzija then launched Garland’s first pitch into the bleachers in left center. Samardzija’s second career home run and first at Wrigley gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Garland struck out DeJesus swinging to end the inning.

At the end of two, the Cubs led 3-1.

Both Jeff Samardzija and Jon Garland settled in after the second inning … neither team recorded another hit until the bottom of the fifth.

Jon Garland retired nine in a row before David DeJesus singled with two outs in the fifth. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left (1-2 pitch). Jon Garland jumped ahead of Rizzo 0-2. Rizzo worked the count back to full then looked at a 3-2 pitch. Rizzo walked and loaded the bases. Alfonso Soriano smoked a 0-2 pitch toward third. Arenado caught the liner to end the inning.

Reid Brignac hit for Jon Garland to start the sixth. Brignac lifted Samardzija’s first pitch of the inning over the wall in right center … and just like that the Cubs were up by a single run. Samardzija struck out Eric Young Jr. and Dexter Fowler swinging before issuing a two-out walk to Carlos Gonzalez. Troy Tulowitzki flied out to deep center to end the inning … and Samardzija exhaled as he made his way to the Cubs’ dugout after DeJesus hauled the ball in just short of the wall.

The Cubs added on in the seventh against Josh Outman. Darwin Barney walked to start the seventh, swiped second on the first pitch to Samardzija and advanced to third when Samardzija dropped down a bunt on a 0-2 pitch. David DeJesus was hit by a pitch (replays showed the ball did not hit him). Starlin Castro stepped in with runners on first and third and one down.

Castro quickly fell behind 0-2. Castro ended up working a full count, which was key. Dale Sveum started DeJesus from first on the 3-2 pitch. Castro reached out and poked the pitch toward right. Josh Rutledge broke to cover second and could not recover fast enough. The ball rolled past him into right and Barney scored the Cubs fourth run.

Anthony Rizzo then smoked the first pitch from lefty Outman past Helton and into right field. DeJesus scored, 5-2 Cubs. Alfonso Soriano pulled a 1-2 pitch to the hole at short. Tulowitzki fielded the ball but made a high throw to second. The Rockies were able to get one and Castro scored the Cubs’ sixth run. Schierholtz flied out to left to end the inning.

Samardzija departed after eight strong innings and James Russell started the ninth. Russell did his job and caught Gonzalez looking for the first out. Sveum went back to his pen for Kevin Gregg. Gregg fell behind Tulowitzki before the Rockies’ shortstop lined a 3-1 pitch into right center. After Helton flied out to center, Tulowitzki took second with Arenado at the plate. Arenado then hit a tapper back to the mound. Gregg fielded the ball then dropped it and the Rockies had runners on first and third with one down. Josh Rutledge singled to right. Tulowitzki scored, 6-3 Cubs. Walt Weiss sent up Wilin Rosario to hit for Torrealba with two on and two down and the Cubs up by three. Rosario hit a sinking liner into center (2-2 pitch), DeJesus raced in and caught the ball while sliding on his knees to end the game.

Thursday is a scheduled off day for the Cubs. Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Matt Harvey in the first of three with the Metropolitans on Friday afternoon.

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