5/15 Cubs 6, Rockies 3
Check the standings. The Cubs are no longer in last place in the NL Central.
Jeff Samardzija smacked a two-run home run and struck out seven over eight innings to pick up his first win since April 1 and lead the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Rockies at Wrigley Field. David DeJesus hit a leadoff homer in the first to help the Cubs take the series and back Samardzija, who raised his season strikeout total to 64, which ranks among the top five in the National League.
Samardzija needed a win. This is the right-hander’s second full season as a starter, and he’s still going through some growing pains.
“He used the whole four corners of the plate,” Dale Sveum said. “He pitched up, he pitched in, he pitched away, used his slider, used his split, used a lot of cutters tonight. He used his whole repertoire tonight. He knew what he was doing tonight; he was pitching.”
Samardzija got off to a good start, needing just nine pitches to get through the first. He got some more help from DeJesus, who opened the Chicago half with his fifth home run and 14th career leadoff homer. The Rockies tied the game in the second but Samardzija answered in the Cubs half. With two outs, Darwin Barney doubled and Samardzija launched the first pitch from Jon Garland into the left-field bleachers for his second career home run and a 3-1 lead.
“That was huge at that time,” Sveum said. “For him to come through and pick us up like that was huge.”
Said Garland: “He’s a good athlete, a pretty good player. It was a cutter out over the plate. It was the first pitch and I was trying to get it over the plate. He was looking off-speed and got it.”
Samardzija’s other home run was Sept. 23, 2009, against the Brewers.
“I need to slow down around the bases and enjoy it a little bit,” Samardzija said of his fast-paced trot. “It doesn’t happen too often. We work a lot on hitting. [Pitching coach Chris] Bosio has us out there hitting every day in the cages. In the National League, it’s an important at-bat. There in the sixth when I got that bunt down, those are important plays in the game and we ended up putting up a three-spot. You can’t accept the out as a pitcher.”
The Cubs added three more runs in the seventh. They’ve now won back to back series for the first time this season.
“We’re playing great baseball and not shooting ourselves in the foot and we’re just looking to keep it going, keep the momentum going that we’ve built up in the last couple weeks,” Samardzija said. “It’s exciting now, it’s exciting in the locker room and fun to play with these guys.”
— Carrie Muskat