Jeff Samardzija mixed a strong start with an impressive performance at the plate.
Samardzija hit a two-run home run and pitched eight sharp innings for his first win since opening day, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 on Wednesday night.
David DeJesus led off the first inning with a home run, and Anthony Rizzo had two hits for the Cubs, who won back-to-back series for the first time this season.
Reid Brignac hit a pinch-hit homer for the Rockies, who finished a 2-4 road trip.
Samardzija (2-5) allowed two runs and five hits. He struck out seven and walked two, but the highlight came on his two-run homer in the second inning.
“I need to slow down around the bases and enjoy it a little bit. It doesn’t happen too often. We work a lot in hitting. (Pitching coach Chris) Bosio has us hitting out there every day in the cages. It’s an important at-bat,” Samardzija said. “You just can’t accept the out as a pitcher. It’s the same out as every other. You roll the lineup over and get the top coming up, and it changes the game.”
Colorado starter Jon Garland (3-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked one.
“I don’t want to come out of these games; it’s not my choice. I’d like to keep going and see if I can continue to give the team a chance. It almost seems like I’m hurting the team more than I’m helping the team only going five,” Garland said.
DeJesus snapped Garland’s 18 1-3 scoreless inning streak against the Cubs with a leadoff home run into the left-field bleachers in the first inning. It was DeJesus’ second leadoff homer of the season and 14th of his career.
Samardzija gave up the lead in the second inning on Josh Rutledge’s RBI single. After a two-out double by Darwin Barney, Samardzija got the lead back on a two-run shot to left to make it 3-1. It was Samardzija’s first of the season and second of his career.
Yorvit Torrealba grounded into a double play to end the second inning which set off a string of 10 consecutive batters retired by Samardzija.
“He just used his whole repertoire (Tuesday night). He knew what he was doing (Tuesday night); he was pitching, he just wasn’t out there throwing. He was mixing it up, keeping them a little off-balanced, broke a lot of bats again (Tuesday night),” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Samardzija bounced back from his worst outing of the season. He allowed a season-high eight hits and seven runs – five earned – in five innings of a 7-3 loss at Washington.
“Call me crazy, but I thought I did some good things in Washington. I thought I got back on track with my fastball. I just didn’t pitch in enough against Washington, but overall when I looked back at the film, I was happy with the way I threw. The outcome wasn’t what you wanted, but I knew I just had to carry that into (Tuesday night),” Samardzija said.
In the sixth inning, Brignac led off with a pinch-hit home run to center. It was his first career pinch-hit homer and cut the Cubs lead to 3-2.
Samardzija got help from his defense in the seventh inning. With two outs, Rutledge lined a double off the wall in left field, Alfonso Soriano made a good relay throw to shortstop Starlin Castro, who was able to throw out Rutledge attempting a double.
The Rockies have not won back-to-back games since a season-high eight-game winning streak April 12-20. They have not won a three-game series at Wrigley Field since Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2006.
“We gotta put together some consistent performances. But overall, we’ve played fairly well on the road,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
In Samardzija’s seven other starts, he endured a shaky bullpen and lack of timely hitting from his offense before getting his first win since April 1.
The Cubs added to the lead in the seventh. After a sacrifice bunt by Samardzija, Castro and Rizzo hit back-to-back RBI singles. Castro’s hit came on a hit-and-run and Rizzo hit a hard grounder between the legs of Todd Helton at first base. Castro came around to score on Soriano’s fielder’s choice to make it 6-2.
In the ninth inning, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg gave up a two-out RBI single to Rutledge in a non-save situation. It was the first run he allowed in 11 appearances. He finished the game by getting Wilin Rosario to fly out to center with runners on first and third.