Samardzija overpowers M's with arm and bat
Right-hander strikes out seven in six innings, homers to aid own cause
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija cracked his second home run of the spring and drove in another run with a single in the seventh as Chicago rallied for a 7-4 win over the Mariners in a Cactus League game Thursday night at Peoria Stadium.
First baseman Brad Nelson hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Erasmo Ramirez for the final margin, handing Ramirez the loss and making a winner out of reliever James Russell.
The Mariners' Justin Smoak hit his fourth homer of the spring and the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano also hit his fourth as the Mariners' winning streak was halted at six games.
Mariners right-hander Jon Garland, pitching for the last time before an opt-out clause in his Minor League contract kicks in, got off to a rough start, but recovered nicely to pitch into the middle innings while the bats gave him an early 1-0 lead. But Samardzija's opposite-field homer to right with one out in the third got the Cubs on the board.
The Mariners bounced right back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning, which began with an error by Cubs second baseman Alberto Gonzalez that put leadoff man Michael Saunders on base. Robert Andino followed with a double that put runners on second and third before Raul Ibanez knocked a run in with a single and Justin Smoak knocked in a second run with a sacrifice fly.
But the Cubs rallied with four consecutive hits off Ramirez, with Darnell McDonald driving home the tying run with a single through the left side of the infield.
"He did a good job of getting ahead, but he didn't finish hitters off," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Ramirez, who allowed four earned runs on six hits in two innings of work. "That's just something that he has to do a better job with. He's been throwing the ball well this spring, but tonight, for whatever reason, he just wasn't finishing pitches off when he was ahead in the count and he got hurt by it."
After David DeJesus led off the game with a double, Garland retired the next seven batters before Samardzija's homer. Garland wound up allowing two runs on five hits in six innings of work, walking one and striking out three.
Samardzija, who is scheduled to make one more start before making his first career Opening Day start, allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits and struck out seven while throwing 93 pitches.
Up next: On Friday, the Cubs travel to Maryvale to face the Brewers at 3:05 p.m. CT. Carlos Villanueva will get the start against his former team. The right-hander, who will open the season as No. 5 starter in the rotation, will be making his fifth start, and hoping to bounce back from a rough outing in Las Vegas against the Rangers. Friday's game will be broadcast on WGN TV and Cubs.com.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.