Updated: June 25, 2011 10:58PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeff Samardzija wishes his football instincts hadn’t taken over.
Samardzija, an All-American wide receiver at Notre Dame, tried to barehand Chris Getz’s bouncer up the middle in the eighth inning, but only succeeded in slowing it down.
Getz’s hit drove in the go-ahead run with two outs and the Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2 Saturday night, snapping a season-high six-game losing streak.
Samardzija (5-4) deflected Getz’s bouncer to Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, but his throw to first was late and Jeff Francoeur, who had walked, scored. Samardzija walked two and hit a batter and retired only one of the five batters he faced.
“I just couldn’t stop myself,” Samardzija said. “I saw it coming and I thought I had a chance at it. In hindsight, if you have a great athlete like Castro back there at short, you got to take the odds that Castro is going to make that play. If I don’t hit it, he makes that play.”
Cubs manager Mike Quade said he would not second-guess Samardzija on trying to field Getz’s hopper.
“Your reaction is to try and catch the ball,” he said. “If he gloves it it’s an easy out. That’s an instinct that comes with years of experience. That’s tough. That’s an inning we need to push him through. He threw the ball well. He just couldn’t get the final out.”
“It goes back to command. He understands command. Francoeur was the big at-bat. He winds up throwing a slider to Getz that he didn’t locate very well. He was throwing the daylights out of the fastball, and you have to locate the slider, or you can continue to power the fastball.”
Samardzija was not happy about walking Francoeur, the first batter he faced.
“I thought we threw him two good sinkers in on the hands,” he said. “I thought we had him set up to throw a slider away. A 3-2 (pitch) has got to be on the plate. Either make him swing or fool him.”
Greg Holland (2-1) pitched a perfect eighth to pick up the victory. Joakim Soria struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to log his 12th save in 17 opportunities.
The Royals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler stroked run-scoring singles. The Royals had a chance to add on with the bases loaded and one out, but Mitch Maier and Mike Moustakas popped out to infielders to end the inning.
Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto hit back-to-back home runs in a span of four pitches by Danny Duffy in the top of the sixth to tie it at 2-2.
Duffy, a rookie left-hander making his ninth career start, worked a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on nine hits, while striking out two, walking one and hitting a batter. Duffy struck out nine in 3 2-3 innings in his previous start at St. Louis before exiting with a cramp in his left leg.
Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, who was facing the Royals for the first time in his career, gave up two runs on eight hits in seven innings, while walking three and striking out two.
“Fantastic,” Quade said of Zambrano’s outing. “The one rough inning he ended up getting through. I’ll take two runs in seven innings every time.”
The Cubs, who had four runners thrown out on the base paths Friday, had Reed Johnson cut down at the plate in the third when he attempted to score from second on Jeff Baker’s single to left. It was Alex Gordon’s 12th assist, which leads all big league outfielders.
Gordon also singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, matching the second longest streak of his career.
Notes: RHP Kevin Appier, the Royals’ all-time strikeout leader with 1,458, was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in pregame ceremonies. Appier, a first-round pick in 1987, pitched 16 seasons in the majors, including 13 with the Royals. He had a 115-92 record with a 3.49 ERA with the Royals, including two one-hitters. He was the 17th player inducted. Royals manager Ned Yost did not start Melky Cabrera and Francoeur, giving them a rest, but both were used as pinch-hitters in the eighth. Rookie Jarrod Dyson started in center, while Mitch Maier was in right. Castro singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. The Saturday crowd of 38,744 was the Royals second largest attendance of the year at Kauffman Stadium, superseded only by 40,055 on opening day.