Walking the first three batters is not the way to start a game. Jeff Samardzija knows that. But hes learning that's no time to panic.
Instead Samardzija settled down, pitching his way out of the jam with minimal damage, giving up only one run. That proved pretty important in a 3-2 Cubs victory Saturday.
As a pitcher, Im starting to learn its not over until its over, Samardzija said. You need to claw your way and keep as many runs off the board as you can. You never know whats going to happen on offense.
With the bases loaded, Samardzija got Carlos Beltran out on a grounder to second that scored Skip Schumaker. Lance Berkman then struck out before Yadier Molina grounded out to end the threat.
Im happy I came out of that inning just giving up one, Samardzija said. Theyve got a lot of pop in the middle of that lineup, so you need to get those early outs. It kind of calmed me down, though, to tell you the truth. It gives you a little confidence boost when you get out of that.
Samardzija was coming off his best start of the season when he pitched eight shutout innings allowing only one hit in a 2-0 victory at Pittsburgh on Monday. After a disastrous June in which he was 0-4 with a 10.41 ERA, Samardzija has only one loss in his past five starts (2-1, two no-decisions).
At one point Saturday, Samardzija retired 10 of 11 batters.
The bottom line was he got all the outs when he had to, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. He did a nice job. He kept us right in the game. The first inning and his last inning, he was in a big mess and he got out of both of them with minimal damage.
The Cardinals tied the game in that sixth after Samardzija once again loaded the bases. This time he did it with two walks and a single, but the results were the same. The Cardinals only scored once.
Berkman, who started the rally with a one-out walk, scored on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Descalso. Samardzija struck out Cardinals starter Joe Kelly to end that threat.
That allowed the Cubs to earn the win with a two-out, bunt single by Reed Johnson that scored Tony Campana in the seventh.
Samardzija left after six innings, having allowed two runs on three hits with six walks and seven strikeouts in a 104-pitch performance.
For us to hold them down to two runs, thats saying something about Jeff, first off all, who didnt have his best stuff today, Johnson said.
Its all part of Samardzijas continuing education as a big-league starter.
Back in the day, it probably would have been a different (result) for me, Samardzija said. But Im starting to learn how to pitch in those situations and how to get out of them with minimal damage.