Baseball / Sports

Overdue win for Jeff Samardzija a relief to Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Samardzija received a beer shower Monday, a tradition typically reserved for a pitcher who earns his first major league victory.

But with the Cubs as relieved as Samardzija to see the ace's 16-start winless drought end, it was time to let the suds fly.

"We snuck it in on him," Darwin Barney said after the Cubs rallied as part of a 13-hit attack that included an RBI double by Samardzija to pull away for an 8-4 win over the Giants.

Samardzija recalled his first big-league dousing, which came on July 27, 2008, and considering how long it had been since he earned a victory, that drought seemed almost as long as the time between beer showers.

"It's been awhile," Samardzija smiled. "I'd rather drink the beer than pour it on me."

Samardzija endured some frustrating moments early in Monday's game. He committed an error in the first inning and thought he got squeezed on a pitch before Pablo Sandoval's RBI single later in the inning.

But even after Sandoval hit a two-run homer in the fourth, Samardzija (1-4) kept his composure, going seven-plus innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks in a 109-pitch effort.

"I've had trouble against these guys before because they work counts and they have great eyes at the plate and they usually foul off a lot of balls," Samardzija said. "So I knew I needed to be aggressive early and get early action and get my pitch count down. I remember two years ago when they got me out in the fifth at 110 pitches."

Samardzija (1.68) no longer owns the majors' lowest ERA, but he no doubt impressed several scouts -- representing the Red Sox and Twins among others -- who watched him alternate effectively with an 86-mph slider and 96-mph fastball while regaining his poise.

"I let my emotions eat there a little bit for five to 10 seconds, and then gathered myself and understood it was early in the game and got another out and got out of there with just one (run)," Samardzija said.

Samardzija (1-4) helped his cause with a double over the head of right fielder Hunter Pence that tied the game in the fifth, and Emilio Bonifacio followed with a triple that gave the Cubs the lead for good.

"People try to downplay their record, but as a starting pitcher, it's important," Samardzija said. "I think there's something to be said about it and how you pitch. I care and want to keep working hard and come out every day and try to get a win. That's all you can do."

Samardzija earned the victory despite tying a season high with three earned runs allowed.

"I get madder at myself when I've had bad pitch selection or things like that," Samardzija said. "Throughout the year, I feel like I've been very happy with the way I've been pitching. It's just that balls haven't bounced my way.

"If you let stuff like that get to you, then it's probably going to snowball on you. I just want to keep my composure. You learn a lot about yourself in this game."

Samardzija was appreciative of the offensive and defensive support and remained focused on improving while he remains a Cub.

"I'm not a big accolades guy," said Samardzija, whose ERA is one point behind Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. "I'm not a big goals guy, outside of 200 innings. I just understand your game speaks for itself and you do your job and do it well, people notice. And things like that happen to take care of themselves.

"It always helps to have help from your team and win games. It's still early and we've got a lot left to do, so we keep working and keep building on this."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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