PITTSBURGH -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija certainly pitched like an ace in the first opening day start of his career, but Carlos Marmol hardly looked like a lockdown closer.
Samardzija pitched eight scoreless innings, but the Chicago Cubs had to overcome a shaky ninth inning from Marmol before beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Monday afternoon at PNC Park.
Samardzija allowed just two hits in eight innings, a leadoff single to Neil Walker in the second inning and a two-out double by Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning. The 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out nine and walked one.
However, after giving up an RBI single to Pedro Alvarez and walking Gaby Sanchez, Marmol was pulled by Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
Left-hander James Russell then got the switch-hitting Neil Walker to fly out to shallow right field.
Sveum then called on right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa, who had 220 saves in 12 seasons in his native Japan, to make his major-league debut and he got Russell Martin to hit a game-ending pop fly to center field for the save.
Samardzija, once an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame, was rewarded with the opening day assignment after making a successful conversation from relief pitching to starter last season. He was 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA in 28 starts last season for a team that lost 101 games.
The Cubs struck quickly as Anthony Rizzo hit a long two-run home run to right-center with one out in the first inning off A.J. Burnett after Starling Castro singled.
Welington Castillo drove in the other run with a double to the gap in right-center in the sixth inning that pushed the lead to 3-0, chasing Burnett.
Castillo had two doubles and Castro also had two of the Cubs' six hits.
Burnett (0-1) gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
The strikeout total tied a Pirates' record for opening day set by Bob Veale in 1965 and matched by John Candelaria in 1983.
NOTES: The Cubs placed second baseman Darwin Barney on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a left knee laceration and Brent Lillibridge took his place in the lineup. Barney, the National League Gold Glove winner at second base last season, was injured Saturday during the Cubs' final exhibition game at Houston when he slid into a concrete side wall while chasing a foul pop up. Manager Dale Sveum said he would "wing it" at second base while Barney is out, not committing to a full-time starter. ... Chicago also made a number of other roster moves, including selecting the contracts of left-hander Hisanori Takahasi, Lillibridge and infielder Alberto Gonzalez, placing right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) on the 60-day disabled list, placing right-hander Matt Garza (left lat strain) and third baseman Ian Stewart (left quad strain) on the 15-day DL and designating right-hander Robert Whitenack for assignment. ... Right fielder Garrett Jones and first baseman Gaby Sanchez were both in Pittsburgh's starting lineup. The plan during spring training was to platoon the right-handed hitting Jones with the left-handed hitting Sanchez at first base, but Sanchez earned a spot in the starting lineup after hitting .302 with four home runs in 43 at-bats during the exhibition season. ... Batting practice was snowed out in the morning but the sun came out by the 1:35 p.m. game time, though the temperature was 41 degrees at first pitch. ... The three-game series resumes Wednesday following an off day Tuesday, with right-hander Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03 last season) pitching for the Cubs against Pittsburgh left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (12-13, 3.76).