MESA, Ariz. – Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija pitched out of enough trouble to get through three innings with the lead in Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
Samardzija — a candidate to start opening day at Pittsburgh on April 1 — walked three, including two when he loaded the bases with none out in the second inning, was making his second spring start and became the first Cubs pitcher to get through three innings.
"I feel like Arizona always does a great job of having a game plan against your pitchers," he said. "Every time I pitch against them, they do make me work. They ake you pound the zone.
"The splitter was a little off, but I thought I got some good work in and they put some good at-bats out there. I got out of a couple jams, and that felt good, too."
Samardzija, who made a successful transition from the bullpen to starting rotation last season, allowed a single and two walks to load the bases in the second, but a double play and strikeout limited the damage to one run allowed.
"To get out of there with one run, especially with a two-run lead, that's important," he said. "You don't want to be in those situations, but you're going to be in those situations during the year, and when it happens, like today, you just take a deep breath and understand, 'Let's work on getting out of this situation so when it happens during the season, we have a little better idea how to do it.
"You definitely will go back to those things and see how you got out of them."
Arizona starter Trevor Cahill pitched two innings in his first start of the spring, allowing the first three batters he faced to reach in a two-run first before retiring the final six he faced.
"I was just trying to throw strikes and get a feel for the game again," Cahill said. "Just trying to get those cobwebs off and feel comfortable."