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Samardzija socked as Brewers beat Cubs

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Associated Press
March 17, 2009
— Jeff Samardzija had one more start to prove he deserved serious consideration for the Cubs’ starting rotation. He likely made manager Lou Piniella’s decision easy.

Bill Hall hit a three-run homer off Samardzija, who gave up five runs in the first inning after getting the first two outs, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat Chicago 9-6 on Monday.


Piniella plans to begin revealing the Cubs’ rotation later this week after giving everyone one more start and Samardzija most likely will be in the bullpen because of the emergence of left-hander Sean Marshall as the leading candidate to be the fifth starter.


Samardzija went 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 26 relief appearances last season for the Cubs and said he’d be happy in any role.


“I don’t know what’s going to be next for me, but obviously I’ll be ready to pitch. I’ve said before I don’t mind pitching whenever or wherever. I’ll just be ready to go whenever they call my name,” Samardzija said. “I really don’t have a preference, like I said with my pitches and everything and where they’re at, I’m pretty happy with them, so I feel like I’ll leave it up to the upstairs to make a decision what they feel is best for the team.”


Samardzija’s problems began when J.J. Hardy doubled with two outs in the first. Hardy scored when Prince Fielder hit a towering fly to right field that Micah Hoffpauir couldn’t grab at the warning track.


Fielder slid headfirst into third for a triple and was awarded home when second baseman Mike Fontenot’s relay throw ended up in the Cubs’ dugout. Corey Hart doubled and Mike Cameron walked in front of Hall, who is looking to bounce back from a disappointing season and missed the first four weeks of spring training with a torn muscle in his left calf.


The drive was another good sign for Hall, who only hit .174 against right-handers last year. That forced the Brewers to platoon him with Russell Branyan, who signed a free-agent contract with Seattle in the offseason.


“He’s just getting into the swing of things,” manager Ken Macha said.


Brewers starter Dave Bush again looked strong, allowing one run and six hits with a walk in four innings. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.


Bush has given up four runs in 14 innings over five spring appearances, good for a 2.57 ERA.


“When they had the bases loaded, no outs, it gives you an opportunity to try to make pitches in a situation that’s going to come up sometimes on you,” said Bush, who is working on being less emotional during his starts. “With bases loaded and no outs, the tendency sometimes for me is to try to get three outs on one pitch.”


Samardzija worked a scoreless second before departing. He was charged with five runs and five hits with two walks.


Hart homered off Jeff Stevens in Milwaukee’s three-run third.


Aramis Ramirez hit a solo home run in the sixth and Welington Castillo added a three-run shot in the eighth for the Cubs.


Notes:Cubs OF Milton Bradley was scratched from the lineup and sent home with the flu. ... Brewers RHP Braden Looper threw two innings in a simulated game. Looper, who has been sidelined with a strained oblique muscle, took a glancing line drive off the back of his head in his first inning, but said it didn’t faze him and he finished the outing. “I felt great today physically, even if I wasn’t as sharp as you would like,” Looper said. ... The Brewers decided to let LF Ryan Braun (strained rib cage) stay with the United States in the World Baseball Classic. Braun is day to day.



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