Chicago bounces back against Padres


Aug 24, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder

Jaff Decker

(1) waits on a pitch from Chicago Cubs starting pitcher

Jeff Samardzija

(29) during the third inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We’d all rather forget about Friday’s series-opening loss at Petco Park. Chicago gave up an early six-run lead, eventually losing by an 8-6 final.

Saturday night, Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija was dominant and Darwin Barney provided most of the team’s offense, leading the team to a 3-2 win.

Samardzija was particularly efficient with his pitches Saturday, as he cruised for much of his outing, picking up his fifth start of at least six innings in his last seven outings.

Barney opened the scoring in the top of the fifth inning, connecting for his seventh home run of the season and giving Chicago a 1-0 advantage.

Padres’ standout Will Venable answered back and continued his recent tear against the Cubs, lining a pitch from Samardzija over the right field fence for his 19th homer of the year.

San Diego starter Eric Stults lasted into the seventh inning, and was charged with three earned runs on the night, coming on six hits and two walks.

Barney lined to left, driving in Darnell McDonald to give Chicago a 2-1 lead. He then advanced to third after San Diego shortstop Logan Forsythe committed a throwing error. Anthony Rizzo continued his strong at-bats of late, lining a single to center that scored Castro, and pushed the Cubs’ lead to 3-1.

The Padres answered back, scoring in the bottom of the eighth against Samardzija on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Yonder Alonso that plated Mark Kotsay. With men on first and second and one out, Jedd Gyorko hit a towering fly ball to left field for the second out, bringing up third baseman Chase Headley.

In a showdown of top-tier offensive talent and top-notch pitching, a passed ball off the glove of Dioner Navarro moved the runners to second and third, respectively, only increasing the tension in Petco Park. The next pitch sailed wide after the Cubs chose to intentionally walk Headley to set up the force out, but Navarro was able to snag it, thus loading the bases for Logan Forsythe.

A high fastball ended the Padres’ hopes of an eighth-inning rally, sending things to the ninth in favor of Chicago, 3-2.

Samardzija’s night came to a close after eight frames, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Dale Sveum turned things over to closer Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning, in hopes of preserving a strong outing by his ace.

Gregg retired Nick Hundley on a groundout to second to start off the ninth. He followed by setting down pinch hitter Chris Denorfia on a groundball to Castro that seemed to get stuck in his glove, resulting in a bang-bang play at first. Another pinch hitter, Jesus Guzman, who had three home runs in such situations entering play Saturday, came to the dish with the Padres’ hopes on the line.

This time, however, Gregg came out on top, striking out Guzman looking to end the game and even the series.

Left-hander Chris Rusin will square off against former Cubs’ prospect Andrew Cashner on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CDT.