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Samardzija blanks White Sox on two hits

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- This time, the Chicago Cubs made sure that starter Jeff Samardzija got a victory out of a sterling effort.

The Cubs rapped out nine hits and gave him a big lead, and Samardzija did the rest by throwing a two-hit, complete-game shutout to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-0 at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night.

The Cubs (20-30) are off to a good start against their American League brethren from the South Side, with three more games left in as many days - with the last two at Wrigley Field.

Thanks to the new scheduling format, the cross-town rivalry was pared down to four games split evenly between the two ballparks and played consecutively for the first time in the history of the rivalry.

While some would like more of a break between trips to each stadium, the White Sox manager isn't one of them for one 6-foot-5, 225-pound reason.

"We like the format because we don't have to face him anymore," Robin Ventura said of Samardzija, who's from nearby Valparaiso, Ind., and grew up a White Sox fan. "He was very good. He was as good as anybody we've seen."

Samardzija (3-6), who took a tough-luck 1-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his previous outing, was even better against the White Sox (24-25). He retired 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced and 15 of the next 18 to finish the game without help from the bullpen.

Using an upper-90s fastball early in the count to get some quick outs through the first four innings, Samardzija then started mixing in his off-speed pitches plus an effective split-finger offering to rack up eight strikeouts -- all between the fifth and ninth innings. He only walked two and allowed hits to Conor Gillaspie leading off the third and Alexei Ramirez with two out in the final frame.

"That kind of stuff ... 97 (mph) from the first pitch until the last pitch, you're not going to see that too often in the big leagues," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Sometimes he (reverts) back to probably thinking a little bit too much instead of just knowing what he is. Sometimes he wants to be this pitcher that's pitching like a Greg Maddux and he's not that kind of pitcher."

Samardzija also saved the bullpen, which was taxed pretty heavily in the previous couple games. Meanwhile, the top of the Cubs' batting order lit up White Sox pitching, led by Julio Borbon (2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs), Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5, triple, two RBIs) and Alfonso Soriano (3-for-4, 2 RBIs). Starlin Castro also went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.

"I had some quick innings and we go out there and put a quick (3-0 lead) up there in the first few innings, which (allowed) me to take a step back and pound the zone," Samardzija said. "Just keep guys off the bases and tack on a few more and that's about how you write it up. You've got to give kudos to our offense to allow me to relax and make some pitches. They were great at the plate."

Jose Quintana (3-2) started and took the loss for the White Sox. He went six innings, allowed four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five.

He was tagged for single runs in the first and sixth and yielded two more in the fifth on a home run by Cubs leadoff hitter Borbon that gave the visitors from the North side a 4-0 lead. The Cubs tacked on three more in the seventh off reliever Nate Jones, highlighted by Rizzo's two-run triple to center. That gave Samardzija a comfortable 7-0 lead on the mound.

"We were facing a good pitcher and I felt like I made two big mistakes," Quintana said through an interpreter. "I'm upset about making those mistakes. When you're facing a good pitcher like that they're even bigger mistakes."

The Cubs gave Samardzija a quick 1-0 lead to work with in the top of the first. Castro walked, stole second and scored on Alfonso Soriano's double.

Borbon gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead in the fifth with a two-out, two-run homer to right off Quintana that also plated Ryan Sweeney -- who was drafted by the White Sox and broke into the majors with the South Siders.

NOTES: White Sox LHP Chris Sale is slated to pitch Tuesday against the Cubs after being scratched from his scheduled May 22 start against the Boston Red Sox because of left shoulder tendinitis. ... C Tyler Flowers started behind the plate for the White Sox after missing a weekend series against the Miami Marlins with back spasms. ... White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham is slated to resume his minor league rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday after taking some time off because of discomfort in his surgically repaired left wrist. ... The Cubs placed 32-year old RHP Kyuji Fujikawa back on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a muscular strain in his right forearm. It's the second time this season the reliever's been shelved due to the injury. ... The Cubs claimed RHP Alex Burnett off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and added him to the 25-man active roster. ... C Steve Clevenger, who's on the DL with a left oblique strain, is playing in games in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' training facility. ... Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson and Sweeney are the only players in the cross-town series this season to have played for both teams.
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