A lack of run support has plagued Jeff Samardzija, but he certainly won't blame the offense for anything if this outing is like his last one.
The Chicago Cubs haven't lost since their ace endured arguably his worst big-league outing, and they'll try to match their best win streak of the past 2 1/2 years behind Samardzija and the surging Anthony Rizzo on Saturday against the Miami Marlins.Rizzo's second go-ahead homer in as many days ended Friday's series opener at Wrigley Field, a two-run shot in the 13th that gave the Cubs a 5-3 victory. He's hit .364 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last nine games, and he's driven in 11 in his last seven against the Marlins.As Rizzo's four RBIs helped Chicago (24-34) win a season-high fourth straight despite blowing a three-run lead in the ninth, Miami (32-29) had a four-game winning streak snapped."I think they're playing with a lot of confidence right now and they're continuing to pick each other up," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "I think they're starting to feel and know they can do this."Samardzija (1-5, 2.54 ERA) was winless through 10 starts as the Cubs backed him with just 17 runs. His drought ended May 26 in an 8-4 victory at San Francisco, with all of Chicago's runs coming while he was in the game.It was far from his best performance, giving up four runs in seven innings, but he retained the majors' best ERA at 1.68. Samardzija lost that lead in ugly fashion in Sunday's 9-0 loss at Milwaukee as he was pulled after three innings -- his shortest outing in 78 starts -- and allowed eight runs, one off a career high."As a whole you become the guy you want to be by turning the page, good or bad," Samardzija said after surrendering eight hits and two walks.Chicago hasn't lost since that day, and its only longer winning streak since the beginning of 2012 was a five-game run May 26-31, 2013.The Cubs also have won four straight and seven of eight at home, but they've lost all six of Samardzija's outings at Wrigley as his 1.49 ERA has been offset by the team totaling 12 runs. He's 0-3 in nine home starts since Aug. 19.Brewers starter Randy Wolf (1-1, 3.38) ended quite a victory drought of his own Monday. He gave up a run and three hits in six innings, striking out seven in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay. Wolf, who didn't pitch last year due to his second Tommy John surgery, got his first win since a September 2012 relief appearance with Baltimore.The 37-year-old left-hander signed with the Marlins on May 14 and only joined the rotation because of Jose Fernandez's season-ending elbow injury."It has been a long, crazy road, especially recently," Wolf said. "Having an unknown future and being counted out because of your age, it's a gratifying feeling to work hard and come back and have a win. But for me it's not time to sit back and relax."Wolf is 6-11 with a 3.87 ERA against the Cubs but didn't allow an earned run in 12 2/3 innings against them in 2012.Miami's Casey McGehee, 6 for 11 in the last two games, has hit .333 with 22 RBIs in his last 20 games at Wrigley. Teammate Garrett Jones had his second straight three-hit game Friday.Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 6 with four strikeouts and is 2 for 10 against Samardzija.
Jeff Samardzija has given up a .167 slugging percentage and zero extra-base hits against his splitter this season, which leads MLB among starters to end at least 20 plate appearances with the pitch. Since he came into the league, Giancarlo Stanton has a .200 slugging percentage against splitters, which is 136 points lower than the league average among hitters to see 20 plate appearances end in the pitch.