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Samardzija has decent outing but gets a no-decision in 5-3 Cubs’ win

Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzijworks first inning Chicago Cubs-San Diego Padres game Monday April 29 2013 Wrigley Field. | Tom

Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija works in the first inning of the Chicago Cubs-San Diego Padres game Monday April 29, 2013 at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 1, 2013 6:48AM



Jeff Samardzija was due for the kind of turnaround his team has had in its last six games.

He got his team’s support but couldn’t help himself enough to qualify for Monday’s 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 of those led to runs, including the first to leadoff man Everth Cabrera who late scored with the help of two wild pitches.

Samardzija’s 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. Your pitch count goes up and there’s no chance of getting a quick out.’’

Samardzija said he was still bothered by a cut on his finger suffered 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 Cubs got the win thanks to some timely hitting and great defense by Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney and a bullpen that has come through of late.

Sveum 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 and Ransom in the second off Clayton Richard (0-3) got the Cubs on the board, but doubles by Welington Castillo and Barney in the fourth 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 get the out 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.

Kevin Gregg, who finished the eighth when the Padres again threatened with two men on and two outs, 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 grounder 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, 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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