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Jeff Samardzija leads Cubs to shutout of Pirates

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzijthrows against Pittsburgh Pirates third inning baseball game Monday July 23 2012 Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

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Updated: July 23, 2012 11:38PM

PITTSBURGH — Against the backdrop of the imminent trade-deadline departure of Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster and rumors circling a dozen other teammates, Jeff Samardzija showed again what the Cubs have in mind for the next few years.

“Pretty impressive. That was no doubt the best stuff he’s had,” manager Dale Sveum said after Samardzija allowed one hit in eight innings in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The only hit Samardzija allowed was Andrew McCutchen’s infield hit to first baseman Anthony Rizzo on an extreme shift. Samardzija hesitated just long enough breaking from the mound to allow McCutchen to beat it. He retired the next 13 in a row.

“That’s on me,” said Samardzija, who improved to 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four July starts after a rough June.

“That would have been interesting,” Sveum said of how his ninth-inning decision could have been reshaped with a no-hitter brewing. “Obviously, I would have sent him back out there if he would have covered first base.”

As it was, Samardzija would have had the chance to go back out in the ninth at 95 pitches if the Cubs hadn’t sent seven men to the plate in the top of the inning, forcing a pitching change.

“Twenty-seven minutes,” Sveum said. “Just too long to wait. I don’t think I’m on his Christmas list right now.”

Samardzija still was reaching the upper-90s with his fastball in the eighth inning.

“[Sveum is] still on my Christmas list,” he said. “Just not tonight. Skip’s been great all year. We played great as a team. It’s not all about what a starting pitcher does.”

Besides, Sveum said this is a temporary issue. The Cubs are keeping a close watch on Samardzija’s workload in his first full season as a big-league starter.

“He’s a horse,” Sveum said. “Obviously, things will change after this year as far as all the innings and worrying about it and all that stuff. I know he doesn’t get too happy about it, but he knows the issues going in. But he’s proven to everybody what he is: a starting pitcher.

“He’s figuring all this out. To have an outing like that against the hottest team in all of baseball swinging the bats is pretty incredible.”

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