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|The Cubs battle the Cardinals again Wednesday evening in the third matchup of a four-game set. Tune in to Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m. for full coverage from St. Louis.|
ST. LOUIS – Jeff Samardzija might have come up with the perfect marketing slogan for a team in transition.
“We’re the Chicago Cubs,” Samardzija said. “There’s always something going on, something being talked about. So if you can’t deal with that, then you better go play somewhere else.”
For one night at least, Samardzija stopped the negative momentum. Ultimately, there was nothing to second-guess on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, where a big-game pitcher worked into the ninth inning and beat the best team in baseball.
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Samardzija could smile after a much-needed 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. In front of 44,139 fans, closer Kevin Gregg got the final two outs, extending his 10-for-10 run in save chances and turning down the noise about manager Dale Sveum and lightning-rod reliever Carlos Marmol.
“We’re a great team in here – we all get along,” Samardzija said. “Despite different things that happen throughout the year, that’s how it goes. With the last game in New York (and) the situation I’m in, I want to come out and do a job for this team and get us back on track.”
Samardzija (4-7, 3.35 ERA) pitched eight scoreless innings in an Opening Day win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, and beat the White Sox with a complete game on the South Side last month. He raised his game again for the Cardinals (45-26), allowing only two runs on seven hits in 8 1/3 innings.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Samardzija said. “With that aside, you have a respect for this team with how they play the game and how they set their lineup up from one to nine. You know you got to come at it.
“You’re watching film five days beforehand and you’re trying to find some weaknesses. You can look as hard as you want. You’re not going to find it. You just know your margin of error against this team is real small. You just got to deal with it.”
Samardzija walked to the mound with a four-run lead before even throwing a single pitch. The Cubs (29-40) jumped Adam Wainwright (10-4, 2.37 ERA), who looks like he’s having a Cy Young type of season.
With two outs in the first inning, Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano hit back-to-back doubles. Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom then blasted back-to-back homers that traveled a combined 766 feet. Samardzija took it from there, pounding his fastball, notching six strikeouts against one walk and getting only one flyball out.
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By now, Samardzija is used to all the distractions and what ex-manager Lou Piniella once called “Cubbie occurrences.”
“You can’t expect it to go smooth all year,” Samardzija said. “There’s going to be some bumps on the road.”