March 26, 2016

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Jeff Samardzija, who had struggled badly this spring, retired the first 11 batters and Matt Duffy hit a solo homer as the San Francisco Giants beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, on Saturday.

Samardzija had entered the game with an 8.53 ERA but allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings. Samardzija got 11 of his 18 outs on ground balls, a formula that works well with the Giants' stellar infield.

''I loved how I was pitching before, but I was just getting hurt on balls up in the zone,'' he said. ''We got rid of those today.''

Duffy went 3 for 4 with three runs scored.

For the Cubs, Addison Russell hit a solo homer off Samardzija in the sixth. Kyle Schwarber went 2 for 4.

Six Giant relievers pitched three scoreless innings, and the defense came through with an errorless game.

''We played well,'' said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

STARTING TIME:

Giants: Samardzjia was happy to see all the ground balls. He struck out four and did not walk a batter in six innings.

''You saw the difference. I'm a ground-ball pitcher. When I see numbers like that I'm happy,'' he said. ''I'm going to bang it down in the zone and throw sinkers and sliders and let those guys work for me. I'm going to be buying them a lot of dinners.''

Bochy said he thought Samardzjia was close to breaking through and was rewarded on Saturday.

''He executed very well for six innings, all his pitches, good command. He did a great job. He had a good rhythm out there. It was good for him. He knows it's spring training but you'd like to have a nice start and he certainly had that today.''

Getting ground balls ''is going to work for him, especially with our infield,'' Bochy said.

Cubs: Starter John Lackey gave up five runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

''My location wasn't great in the first inning,'' when the Giants scored twice, but, ''I got some good work in.''

Lackey plans to start in a minor league game Thursday as spring training winds down.

''I think we're all about ready to get out of here.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: Jake Arrieta could throw a side session Sunday, which may be an indicator on whether the reigning Cy Young winner will be ready for Opening Day. Arrieta had to leave Thursday's game with a blister.

UP NEXT

Giants: Jake Peavy is set to start at home in Scottsdale Sunday against the Chicago White Sox' Mat Latos.

Cubs: Jason Hammel will take the mound at home in Mesa Sunday against Seattle's James Paxton.

MADDON SEES FLEXIBLE BULLPEN

Cubs manager Joe Maddon indicated he expects his relief pitchers to be flexible enough to handle pitching in various spots in games instead of being assigned ''generic'' roles for specific innings.

''Why save one of your best relief pitchers for the eighth inning if the heart of the order is coming up in the seventh? It makes no sense for me.''

NOTES: The Cubs stretched in the morning while listening to the recorded music of Huey Lewis.in the presence of Huey Lewis. The singer dressed in a Cubs' uniform and took some swings in pre-game batting practice. Then he donned a Giants' uniform and sat near Bochy during the game. . A sellout crowd was listed at 15,403 people

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