Jeff Samardzija lasted only five innings Wednesday and needed 97 pitches to get there, but the final inning of his start against the Miami Marlins could be one that becomes a key reference point if he becomes what the Cubs think he can for their rotation in the future.
With the score tied 1-1, Samardzija gave up a leadoff triple to Emilio Bonifacio and stranded him - despite Geovany Soto giving the Marlins a fourth out in the inning.
With the infield in, Samardzija got Carlos Lee to ground out for the first out, Bonifacio holding at third. Logan Morrison then grounded sharply to Anthony Rizzo, who caught Bonifacio in no-man's land and threw to third.
But after Luis Valbuena threw to Soto at home, Soto bobbled the ball pursuing Bonifacio, eventually dropping it as both runners were safe, at second and third.
``After that, I kind of took a second,'' Samardzija said. ``That was really what I was happy about with myself, just taking my time, not rushing and making pitches I need to make and understanding there's still a chance to get out of this.''
At which point, Samardzija struck out Hanley Ramirez looking, and then got Greg Dobbs to ground to Rizzo at first to end it.
``Things like that you learn from it,'' said Samardzija, who was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning and wound up with a no-decision.
``You never know when that situation's going to come up again, but at least you can go back to when it happened before and kind of rely on your past experience.''
It makes three consecutive strong starts for Samardzija since a crappy June. And despite a strict pitch count and an even closer watch on his rest between starts the remainder of the season, he views the post-All-Star schedule as much bigger than the first half.
``I'm excited to get back in that routine and really hit the second half strong,'' he said, ``and pitching strong throughout the season so there's no question marks about `first-year starter, blah, blah, blah.' ''
CUBS PROSPECTS BUSTED FOR PEDs - Two right-handers pitching in the Dominican Summer League in the Cubs' farm system was suspended 50 games each for violating the minor-league drug program, MLB announced Wednesday.
Juancito De la Cruz, 19, and Antonio Encarnacion, 20, both tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, the commissioner's office said. The suspensions are effective immediately.
De la Cruz was 1-1 with 6.30 ERA in 20 innings of relief this summer; Encarnacion had an ERA of 4.50 in six innings of relief.