Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs win 5-3 but not for Samardzija

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Jeff Samardzija was due for the kind of turn-around Monday his Cubs team had in their last six games.
He got his team's support but couldn't help himself enough to qualify for the eventual 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
``Too many walks,'' he said of the elevated pitch count that limited him to only five innings. ``You can't put that many guys on for free.''
Samardzija, winless since opening day, walked four and two scored, including the first to leadoff man Everth Cabrera who scored with the aid of two wild pitches.
But his teammates gave him a 3-1 lead into the fifth, but as in his past starts, it was the inning he couldn't escape.
``He probably got away from his fastball in situations,'' manager Dale Sveum said. ``Certain things get people out. He went to the well too often.
``We're getting to the [elevated] pitch count and can't seem to get through that one inning. He was maybe one pitch away from getting two more innings.
``Walks will kill you,'' he added. ``Your pitch count goes up and there's no chance of getting a quick out.''
Samardzija admitted still being bothered by the cut he suffered on a right finger in his last start--a 1-0 loss in Cincinnati.
But it wasn't an excuse.
``I was working with what I had today,'' he said.
The best thing he and the Cubs had were more moments of timely hitting--especially from the bottom of the order in Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney--great defense--also by Ransom and Barney--and a bullpen that keeps coming through of late.
Sveum had said before the game that ``the overall essence of the game has been better,'' and it showed in the later innings.
Back to back homers by Scott Hairston (second) and Ransom (second) in the second off Clayton Richard (0-3) showed power, but doubles by Welington Castillo and Barney in the fourth--Barney's after two were out--were the timely hits.
Ransom (single) and Barney (double) came through again in the sixth with the RBI that provided the margin of victory.
Each made dazzling defensive plays in the seventh. Barney dove to stop Chase Headley's ground ball with two men on base, then throwing from his knees to retire him at first and save a run.
Ransom ended the inning charging a grounder by Jedd Gyorko and throwing him out.
Barney called that play the game-saver, but many could share that title, including Kevin Gregg, who finished the eighth when the Padres again threatened with two men on and two outs, then retired the Padres in order in the ninth for his fourth save.
``He's been a calming presence for sure,'' Samardzija said. ``He's been with us before and we knew that's what he was about. It just makes the bullpen that much deeper.''
Barney's return from a deep knee cut also has turned things for the defense, though the team's streak of five errorless games ended when Starlin Castro couldn't handle a ground ball by Richard in the second.
``Definitely our defense has picked up a lot,'' Barney said. ``In these close games, pitching and defense will help us.''
Samardzija is pitching well by most standards, despite losses in four of his last five outings.
He struck out eight on Monday to give him 47 for the month of April, second highest in Cubs history. Matt Garza had 51 in 2011.
``I'm not down on myself,'' he said. ``If I start getting early action [through more innings,] I'll get there.''
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This page contains a single entry by Toni Ginnetti published on April 29, 2013 11:12 PM.

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