Cubs take 2-0 lead over Gi­ants

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jay Cohen

Jeff Sa­mardz­ija fi­nally got to make a play­off start at Wrigley Field, and it worked out re­ally well for his for­mer team.

Sa­mardz­ija lasted just two in­nings in the short­est start of his ca­reer and San Fran­cisco was shut down by Chicago’s bullpen in a 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Satur­day night, putting the Gi­ants on the brink of elim­i­na­tion two games into their best-of-five NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

Gre­gor Blanco hit an RBI dou­ble and Bran­don Belt added a sac­ri­fice fly in San Fran­cisco’s two-run third, but that was it for the Gi­ants in an­other slug­gish per­for­mance at the plate. They have scored in just two of their 27 in­nings in this year’s post­sea­son, win­ning 3-0 on Conor Gil­laspie’s ninth-in­ning homer in the wild-card game against the Mets and los­ing 1-0 in the NLDS opener Fri­day night.

San Fran­cisco won the World Se­ries in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14, and its play­off win against the Mets on Wed­nes­day was rem­i­nis­cent of its even-year magic dur­ing those ti­tle runs. But the Gi­ants’ lack­lus­ter stay in Chicago put them in a big hole against the loaded Cubs, who led the ma­jors with 103 wins this year.

The big­gest pos­i­tive for the Gi­ants: Madi­son Bum­gar­ner is lined up for Game 3 on Mon­day night in San Fran­cisco. The big left­hander tossed a four-hit­ter in the wild-card win and is 6-1 with a mi­cro­scopic 0.79 ERA in his last nine play­off ap­pear­ances.

San Fran­cisco also can draw from its 2012 ti­tle run, when it dropped the first two games of the di­vi­sion se­ries against Cincin­nati and won three in a row to ad­vance. The Gi­ants then fell be­hind 3-1 in the NLCS against St. Louis and stayed alive again.

Man­ager Bruce Bochy’s club was look­ing to re­bound in Game 2 against the Cubs after it man­aged just six hits against Jon Lester and Aroldis Chap­man in the se­ries opener. But the Gi­ants trailed from the very be­gin­ning in Sa­mardz­ija’s sec­ond ca­reer start at Wrigley as a vis­i­tor.

Sa­mardz­ija was drafted by the Cubs in 2006 and spent his first 6 ½ sea­sons with the team be­fore he was traded to Oak­land in the 2014 deal that brought short­stop Ad­di­son Rus­sell to the Cubs. His only pre­vi­ous play­off ap­pear­ance was a relief out­ing for Chicago against the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in the 2008 Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

The right-han­der, a na­tive of nearby Mer­ril­lville, In­di­ana, who played base­ball and foot­ball at Notre Dame, fell be­hind in the first when Dex­ter Fowler hit a lead­off dou­ble and scored on Ben Zo­brist’s two-out RBI sin­gle.

The Cubs added three more in the sec­ond. The big blow was pitcher Kyle Hen­dricks’ two-run sin­gle on a flare to cen­ter.

Bochy then hit for Sa­mardz­ija in the third. The righty al­lowed six hits and walked one, throw­ing 33 of his 47 pitches for strikes.

Hen­dricks de­parted in the fourth with a bruised right fore­arm after he was struck by An­gel Pa­gan’s line drive with two out. But the Gi­ants man­aged just two hits against five Cubs re­liev­ers.

Travis Wood, who re­placed Hen­dricks, got four outs and home­red against Ge­orge Kon­tos in the fourth. Chap­man pitched a per­fect ninth for his sec­ond save of the se­ries.

The Gi­ants to­taled six hits against six pitch­ers. Bochy even asked Bum­gar­ner to spark San Fran­cisco’s slug­gish of­fense as a pinch­hit­ter in the fifth — third base­man Kris Bryant bob­bled Bum­gar­ner’s grounder for an er­ror, then threw the ball away to let Bum­gar­ner reach sec­ond base with one out. Bum­gar­ner was stranded.


Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood salutes the Wrigley Field crowd after his home run in the fourth in­ning against the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants in Game 2 of the Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries on Satur­day.

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