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Shawn Camp puts stamp on Cubs’ second consecutive win

Alfonso Soriano gloves liner hit by Chris Denorfibefore doubling up Eric Stults second end sixth. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Alfonso Soriano gloves a liner hit by Chris Denorfia before doubling up Eric Stults at second to end the sixth. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:54PM



Jeff Samardzija’s pitching was strong through seven innings Tuesday, and Alfonso Soriano owned the highlight reel with a game-saving catch and booming home run.

But manager Dale Sveum had someone else in mind as the star of the Cubs’ 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres: reliever Shawn Camp.

‘‘I can’t say enough about Camp this year,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s been put in all these different roles, and he’s done a nice job. He’s always had a rubber arm, and nothing seems to faze him. He may be our MVP to this point.’’

James Russell earned his first career save with a scoreless ninth, but the tougher inning was the eighth, when Camp replaced Samardzija.

The Padres had no outs, a run in and Will Venable on third as the tying run.

‘‘As a pitcher leaving the game with a guy on third, if that run scores, you blame yourself,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘But Campy was outstanding.’’

Camp retired Chris Denorfia on a comebacker, and Jeff Baker grabbed Yonder Alonso’s liner near first. Then former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, who had a double, single and home run, flied out.

‘‘In a situation like that, you try to limit the damage,’’ said Camp, who lowered his ERA to 2.67 with 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 271/3 innings. ‘‘I don’t think there’s rubber in any arm, but it’s one of those fortunate things that I’ve had in my career. I like to pitch every day and be consistent.’’

Samardzija had things in hand until Quentin’s homer leading off the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, he gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with an RBI single.

The Padres threatened in the sixth with pitcher Eric Stults (1-1) on second and one out. But Soriano made a diving catch of Denorfia’s sinking fly, then threw to second to easily double up Stults.

He took Stults deep in the bottom of the inning for his seventh homer in May.

‘‘Guys like Sori have been productive for a long time,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘And that catch was a huge, huge play, and then it never fails that he comes up and hits a homer.

‘‘As tough a time as he has on his legs, he’s been tremendous on defense.’’

Getting a second consecutive victory was as important to Soriano.

‘‘It’s big because the last 12 games we felt tired and frustrated, and now we’re feeling good because we played two good games,’’ he said.

David DeJesus (eight games) and Starlin Castro (seven games) extended hitting streaks, and Samardzija improved to 5-3, striking out eight with one walk.

‘‘I made some adjustments in my mechanics, but I felt pretty good,’’ he said.

Samardzija is 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last five starts at Wrigley Field. But he had another incentive going for him — Jeff Samardzija bobblehead day.

‘‘You don’t want to pitch bad and see your bobblehead smashed all over the place outside.’’



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