Samardzija's gem not enough as Cubs fall to Padres

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Samardzija's gem not enough as Cubs fall to Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Clayton Richard threw a five-hitter and the San Diego Padres swept the Chicago Cubs with a 2-0 win on Wednesday.Richard (9-11), coming off one of his better starts of the season, held the Cubs to five singles and pitched out of trouble three times to hand Chicago its eighth straight loss.Richard struck out five, walked one and hit a batter as the Cubs had a runner reach third base three times.Chicago scored four runs - all in Tuesday night's 7-4 loss - and had 15 hits in the three-game series.San Diego's runs came on Will Venable's RBI double in the second inning and Yonder Alonso's run-scoring single in the ninth.Richard has three career complete games and two shutouts.Jeff Samardzija (7-10) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He struck out five and walked two.In his last start, Richard gave up one run and scattered eight hits over seven innings in Friday's 3-1 win over the New York Mets.San Diego scored the game's first run when Chase Headley led off the second with a double and scored one out later on Venable's double.Alexi Amarista doubled with two outs in the ninth and went to third on first baseman Anthony Rizzo's error before Alonso blooped a single to left.Chicago's Starlin Castro singled in the sixth to snap an 0-for-19 drought. Castro's single sent Alfonso Soriano to third after he was hit by a pitch with two outs and stole second. But Wellington Castillo grounded out to end the inning.Samardzija struck out swinging to end the seventh inning and snapped his bat in two over his right leg.
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Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

The White Sox will battle the Oakland Athletics today, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:05 p.m.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Kendall Graveman

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Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.