Who's your Padre? Samardzija throttles SD

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SAN DIEGO – Jeff Samardzija says he can see the light.

And for his last 2 ½ starts it has translated to lights-out pitching against Cincinnati, Washington and on Saturday night the San Diego Padres.

Whether it translates to the kind of multi-year deal he wants when he and the club re-engage talks in the off-season, it at least seems to have him pointed toward the kind of strong finish he had a year ago.

This time with a chance to go all the way to the end of the season – on track for a 200-inning season and 33 starts. On Saturday he surpassed his previous season high and now has 176 1/3 innings with six starts left.

“You get into those last couple months and you see that light, and you know how many starts you have left,” Samardzija said after going eight innings to beat the Padres 3-2 at Petco Park. “Usually you have everything ironed out by now and you feel good. And it’s just about putting in that work to stay strong in that last month and leave it all out there.’

Darwin Barney’s fifth-inning homer gave Samardzija a 1-0 lead, and after Will Venable tied it with a homer in the sixth, Barney came through again with a run-scoring double in the seventh for a 2-1 lead. And Barney later scored on an Anthony Rizzo single to make it 3-1.

But the sequence of the game, and for Samardzija’s long-term development as a big-league starter, came in the bottom of the eighth when a walk, single and bunt single loaded the bases with none out.

Having faced just five over the minimum until then, Samardzija was allowed to work through the jam – and survived allowing only one run on Yonder Alonso’s ensuing sacrifice fly.

“He [bore] down [after that] and got huge outs,” manager Dale Sveum said. “That’s why you leave a guy like that in the game.”

Another fly ball and a strikeout ended it – albeit, after a passed ball and intentional walk reloaded the bases.

“The biggest thing in that is your manager sees it and your pitching coach sees it,” Samardzija (8-11, 4.03) said. “There’s plenty of situations throughout the season when it’s going to be like that, and if you can put confidence in them that, `Hey, he’s gotten out of this before; let’s give him another shot,’ that’s what you want.

“And that confidence kind of snowballs. …”

NOTES

— The Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak one night after blowing a six-run lead in a series-opening loss.

–Rizzo, who on Wednesday was moved from the No. 3 spot in the order to second, delivered his first hit with a man in scoring position since Aug. 9. He had walked twice in the only two other RISP situations he had since the lineup change.

–Barney’s home run was his seventh of the season, matching his career high (last season).

–Barney is 14-for-46 (.304) in his last 14 games with seven walks, three doubles and the home run.

–Counting his final three innings in an Aug. 13 start, Samardzija has a 1.35 ERA in his last 2 ½ starts (20 IP) and back-to-back wins.

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