When fastball clicks, Samardzija finds edge

Giants righty fans five Dodgers thanks to strong feel of pitch

When fastball clicks, Samardzija finds edge

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija continued his steady progress toward regular-season form on Sunday as the Giants fell to the Dodgers, 5-2, in a Cactus League exhibition.

Samardzija struck out five and walked none in three innings, obscuring the one run and five hits he allowed. The right-hander asserted himself in the first inning by striking out the side. Samardzija quickly established command of his fastball, which, he said, enabled him to work on secondary pitches such as his split-finger fastball and slider.

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"It's nice when you can check some things off your list," Samardzija said. "If you're out there wasting 50 pitches on your heater location, you're probably a little behind."

Samardzija fans five Dodgers

The Dodgers were the ones who were behind at the outset as Samardzija retired Carl Crawford swinging, froze Joc Pederson with a called third strike and fanned Yasiel Puig.

"Every time out, you want to have a strong first inning," said Samardzija, the Giants' projected No. 3 starter. "Speaking from experience, it makes the day a little bit longer when that first inning's a grind."

What rivalry?
A new era in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry began and may have ended on Sunday as brotherly love, not a benches-clearing fracas, broke out between the teams.

Shortly before the game started, Dave Roberts, the Dodgers' first-year manager who played for the Giants from 2007-08, exchanged bro-hugs with manager Bruce Bochy, guest coach and former San Francisco teammate Rich Aurilia and a couple of other Giants. The teams' bench coaches, Ron Wotus of the Giants and Bob Geren of the Dodgers, chatted amiably.

Bochy pointed out that many of the parties involved hadn't seen each other in a long time. Moreover, Roberts' friendliness toward virtually everybody he meets is legendary.

Bochy sounded a tad embarrassed after the game about the extent of the hugging, however.

"The hugging -- I don't know about that," he said.

Bottom line: Leo Durocher and Jackie Robinson wouldn't have done anything like this in a billion years.

Cueto on track
Bochy said that right-hander Johnny Cueto threw well in a bullpen session on Sunday and will start, as expected, against Colorado on Wednesday.

Cueto's lack of arm strength forced the Giants to scratch him from Friday's start against Cincinnati.

Bochy also said that right-hander Matt Cain, recovering from the removal of a cyst from his pitching arm, played long toss but probably will need at least two bullpen sessions before he can appear in an exhibition game.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.