Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Cubs extend winning streak

CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Samardzija was a symbol of the Cubs' struggles when he was winless despite leading the majors in ERA.

Now he has his second win in three starts for a team trying to turn around its season.

Samardzija tossed seven solid innings, Junior Lake hit two home runs and Emilio Bonifacio added a two-run shot as the Cubs extended their win streak to five with a 5-2 victory over the Marlins on Saturday.

"The best thing as a starting pitcher you can have is consistency; that every time you go out there, your coach and your teammates know what you're going to give them," Samardzija said. "That's what I want to do."

Saturday certainly was a start. Samardzija allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out eight. Pedro Strop got his second save.

Except for his last outing — eight runs over three innings at Milwaukee on June 1 — Samardzija has put up similar numbers all season. The Cubs, though, would come up short in one phase of the game during his outings; whether it was offense or defense.

During the win streak, consistent all-around production has been the norm.

"I think everybody's contributing in some shape or form," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "There are a lot of different things, a lot of little things. They're just playing the game."

The Cubs went in front in the third when Samardzija singled and Bonifacio hammered a 3-and-2 pitch from Randy Wolf into the leftfield bleachers for a 2-1 lead. It was Bonifacio's first homer since July 30 last season.

"That was great," Samardzija said. "I got to jog around the bases instead of having to score from first.I really love how we're playing right now as a team in all phases. To win big-league ball games, you have to have all three or four phases of the game.

"I love the way we're swinging it right now. And as a pitcher, it gives you a lot of confidence to go out and pound the zone."

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