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Saturday, September 8, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Cubs 4, Pirates 3

By Doug Padilla



PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs' 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday gave them back-to-back victories on the road for the first time since their last visit to Pittsburgh in late July.

How it happened: He started on a shaky note, but Jeff Samardzija regrouped and ended his season with a 120-pitch complete game. The Cubs will shut down the first-year starter as a precaution, but before they did he allowed three runs (two earned) in his first complete game and the first one by a Cubs starter all year. Samardzija gave up his two earned runs in the first inning. David DeJesus broke a tie in the eighth inning with a go-ahead RBI single.

What it means: The 9-13 record doesn’t look like much, but Samardzija ends the year with a solid 3.81 ERA. From the start of spring Samardzija was confident he would be a successful starter, saying that returning to the bullpen wasn’t an option. The new front office and coaching staff hoped Samardzija could transition into being a solid starter but his season exceeded everybody’s expectations.

Outside the box: It only figured that the first time Sveum tried the pitcher in the No. 8 spot of the lineup, Samardzija came to the plate all four times with a runner in scoring position. He made three outs and laid down a sacrifice bunt. In Tony Campana's first two at-bats of the game in the No. 9 hole, he had two base hits leading off an inning.

Off beat: For the second time in three nights both benches were warned during a Cubs game. It happened Thursday at Washington when Lendy Castillo nearly hit Bryce Harper. Saturday, home-plate umpire Scott Barry pointed at both benches after Pirates starter James McDonald hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch. In the first inning, Samardzija had plunked Andrew McCutchen.

Up next: The Cubs will send left-hander Chris Rusin (0-2, 9.00 ERA) to the mound Sunday at Pittsburgh in the finale of the three-game series. The Pirates will counter with left-hander Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.82) in the 12:35 p.m. CST start from PNC Park.