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Samardzija tries to reverse fortunes against Braves
(SportsNetwork.com) - There probably isn't anything Jeff Samardzija would change about his last outing other than the outcome.
Despite one of the best earned run averages in the majors, the Chicago Cubs righty again tries for his first victory of the season in Saturday night's second contest of a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
Samardzija has not won in his last 13 starts dating back to a victory on Aug. 24 of last season. He has dropped five straight decisions over that time and is 0-3 this year despite a 1.62 ERA.
The 29-year-old's tough luck reached a new height on Monday when he did not factor into a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Samardzija allowed just one unearned run over nine innings and a career-high 126 pitches, scattering three hits and two walks while fanning seven.
The hurler even had a hit and scored the Cubs' only run, but the White Sox won in 12 innings.
"What a great outing -- gritty, gutsy, everything you could ask for," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said told his club's website of the effort by his starter. "We wanted that game for him, but we couldn't pull it out."
Samardzija is 2-1 lifetime versus the Braves with a 3.46 ERA in nine meetings, including three starts.
After having his last start skipped due to a bruised right thumb, Ervin Santana gets the call tonight for the Braves.
Santana will make his first start since May 1, when he was going for a third straight winning start but instead did not get a decision in his club's 5-4 setback to Miami. The 31-year-old righty gave up three runs over six innings.
Santana is still unbeaten on the season at 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA through five outings and will face the Cubs for the first time.
Solid pitching and timely hitting led to the Braves taking Friday night's opener 3-2 in 10 innings. Jason Heyward led off the pivotal frame with a walk and then stole second on a pickoff attempt before Justin Upton was intentionally walked by the Cubs' Wesley Wright.
Freddie Freeman then followed with his third hit of the game to plate the winning run, a single to center that gave the slugger his eighth career walk- off hit.
"I don't think he should intentionally walk people to get to someone on our team," Freeman said. "We finally had a great pitching game and we actually scored more runs than they did."
The Braves had dropped eight of nine coming in and saw starter Julio Teheran fire eight innings of one-hit ball. The lone mistake he made was a leadoff homer to Mike Olt in the third inning, but Teheran was denied the win after Craig Kimbrel blew his second save of the season.
Ryan Kalish singled off Kimbrel in the ninth to chase home Chris Coghlan, but Chicago eventually lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Cubs are hoping that Olt is starting to heat up after he homered for a third straight game. That span includes a grand slam in Thursday's contest versus the Chicago White Sox, but he is hitting just .192 on the year.
"I got one mistake and was able to do something with it. But other than that, (Teheran) did a great job controlling the game and coming right at us," Olt said.
The Cubs and Braves are meeting for the first time this season. Atlanta went 5-1 in the 2013 series with Chicago, which has now dropped five in a row at Turner Field.
05/10 10:38:36 ET
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