Samardzija Solid After Rocky Start – Cubs 3, Rockies 1

Game Ninety-Four – Cubs 3, Rockies 1

WP – Jeff Samardzija (6-9) LP – Edgmer Escalona (1-3) Save – Kevin Gregg (18)

wflag-pubThe Cubs began a very difficult 10-game road trip with a solid victory in Denver behind a very good outing from Jeff Samardzija. And the Cubs started the second half with a win.

After a rough start to his night, Jeff Samardzija settled down and put together his best outing in over a month. Samardzija struggled with his mechanics again over the first four innings but did not allow a run until the fourth when Dexter Fowler took him deep with a solo shot that tied the game at one. Samardzija wiggled his way out of a jam in the fourth thanks to a tremendous effort from Welington Castillo that turned a wild pitch into an out. Castillo flipped the ball to Samardzija, who tagged out Troy Tulowitzki at the plate to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija retired the next nine batters he faced after the fourth inning. Samardzija struck out the heart of the Rockies order in the seventh and was efficient enough to stay in for the eighth. Samardzija ran out of gas in the eighth and turned the game over to Pedro Strop with two on and one out. Strop retired the two batters he faced to help preserve the win for Samardzija.

Jeff Samardzija held the Rockies to one run on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Samardzija recorded nine groundball outs and threw 105 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Kevin Gregg wiggled his way out of a jam in the ninth and picked up his 18th save of the season.

The Cubs offense did just enough on Friday night. The Cubs outhit the Rockies 8-5 but did not manage a single hit with runners in scoring position (0-for-7) and left nine men on base. The Cubs worked five walks and two of the free passes scored on Friday night.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a home run) stayed hot and hit his 10th longball in 17 games leading off the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double, a RBI and a walk) doubled in Cody Ransom (0-for-3 with two walks and a run scored) with the Cubs’ second run in the seventh inning.

Darwin Barney (1-for-5 with a double and a RBI) doubled in Cole Gillespie (one walk, run scored) with the Cubs’ third run in the ninth … and gave Kevin Gregg a little breathing room

Junior Lake (3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base) made his big league debut and could easily been 4-for-4 on the night. Jorge De La Rosa took a hit away from Lake in the fourth. Lake pulled the first pitch he saw in the majors down the left field line for a double and stole third on the first pitch to Dave Sappelt. Lake had a good Major League debut and showed how good he can be on a given night.

The Cubs defense had another good game. Welington Castillo picked off a runner from first and made a game changing play to end the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo made several fine scoops of low throws that helped limit the Rockies to three outs an inning.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 17th longball of the season in the fourth inning and tied Johnny Bench for 57th place on the All-Time Home Run list with 389. Soriano also inched up the Cubs’ All-Time list and is just nine behind Hack Wilson (190). Graig Nettles is one ahead of Soriano for the most home runs in Major League history.

Alfonso Soriano is 11 home runs short of 400 for his career.

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 43-51 on the season …

The Cubs managed a two-out walk by Anthony Rizzo in the first inning but that was all. The Cubs made De La Rosa work a little. The Rockies’ lefty threw 19 pitches, nine for strikes.

Jeff Samardzija’s night did not get off to a good start. Jeff Samardzija issued a four-pitch walk to Dexter Fowler to start the first inning. But Fowler was too far off first base following a 1-1 pitch to LeMahieu and Welington Castillo picked him off first base. Samardzija then retired LeMahieu on a grounder to short and stuck out Carlos Gonzalez swinging to end the inning. Samardzija was shaky at best in the opening inning and threw 16 pitches, eight for strikes.

Junior Lake pulled the first pitch he saw in the big leagues down the third baseline. Lake ended up at second with a double and swiped third on the first pitch to Dave Sappelt. Walt Weiss brought his infield in and Sappelt hit a comebacker to the mound. Lake broke with contact, stopped halfway down the third baseline and was caught in a run down. Nolan Arenado eventually tagged him out as he waived Sappelt to second base. After missing with his first two offerings to Castillo, De La Rosa intentionally walked the Cubs’ catcher to put two on with two down for Jeff Samardzija. De La Rosa got out of the jam by striking out Samardzija swinging for the third out. De La Rosa needed 33 pitches, 18 for strikes, to complete two innings on Friday night.

The game remained scoreless through the third inning.

Alfonso Soriano led off the fourth with a towering homer to center on a 0-1 pitch from De La Rosa. Soriano’s 17th longball of the season gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Castro grounded out to second and De La Rosa took a hit away from Lake on a smash back up the middle for the second out. Sappelt grounded out to short for the third out.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill in the fourth with a 1-0 lead … that quickly disappeared. Dexter Fowler led off the fourth with his 11th longball of the season and tied the game at one. Samardzija struck out LeMahieu swinging and retired Gonzalez on a grounder to Castro. But Tulowitzki drove a 0-1 pitch into right field. With Tulowitzki at first, Cuddyer singled to right center and put runners on the corner with two out for Todd Helton.

Samardzija’s first pitch to Helton was in the dirt and skirted between Castillo’s legs. Castillo hustled back as Tulowitzki raced for the plate. Castillo slid, picked up the ball and slung it toward the plate. Samardzija caught the perfect throw, applied the tag and Tulowitzki was called out to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija survived a shaky inning and threw 49 pitches, 29 for strikes, over four innings. After four complete, the game was tied at one.

The game remained tied at one through the fifth and sixth innings. The Cubs could not string together any hits while Jeff Samardzija settled down nicely. Samardzija retired the Rockies in order in the fifth and sixth innings. Samardzija threw 69 pitches, 43 for strikes, over the first six innings.

Edgmer Escalona replaced De La Rosa to start the seventh and retired Samardzija and Barney in quick order to start the inning. Cody Ransom worked a two out walk.

Anthony Rizzo pulled a 2-1 pitch from Escalona into right. The ball skipped past Cuddyer and rolled to the wall. Ransom scored all the way from first and gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead but Rizzo was thrown out at third trying to advance a base on the throw to the plate (9-4-2-5).

Jeff Samardzija struck out Carlos Gonzalez (swinging), Troy Tulowitzki (swinging) and Michael Cuddyer (swinging) in the seventh. Samardzija struck out the side in order and needed only 87 pitches, 55 for strikes, to get through seven innings on Friday night.

Junior Lake collected his third hit with one out in the eighth off of Matt Belisle … but Sappelt grounded out to short on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija stayed in for the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to Todd Helton. Josh Rutledge ran for Helton and advanced to second when Wilin Rosario pulled a 3-2 pitch to short. Rutledge was running with the pitch and advanced into scoring position. Samardzija then issued a four-pitch walk to Nolan Arenado that put two on with one out. With the Cubs clinging to a one-run lead, Dale Sveum went to his pen for Pedro Strop. Cole Gillespie entered the game and replaced Sappelt in right.

Pedro Strop retired pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco on a flyout to center (0-2 pitch) and struck out Dexter Fowler swinging to end the inning.

At the end of eight, the Cubs were clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Rex Brothers caught Castillo looking at a 2-2 pitch to start the ninth. Cole Gillespie worked a walk and scored the Cubs’ third run when Darwin Barney pulled a double into the left field corner. Ransom flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch. Barney tagged and advanced to third with two outs. Rizzo flied out to center (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up 3-1.

D.J. LeMahieu led off the ninth and worked a full count before ripping a double down the right field line. Carlos Gonzalez grounded out to Castro up the middle for the first out. LeMahieu advanced to third with one down. Kevin Gregg then walked Tulowitzki to put runners on the corners with one out for Michael Cuddyer.

Chris Bosio made his way to the mound and had a brief discussion with Gregg that apparently worked. Cuddyer rolled the first pitch he saw to Barney … 4-6-3 double play. Game over, Cubs win.

Carlos Villanueva faces Juan Nicasio on Saturday night.

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