SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Samardzija got his first win of the season on Monday, ending a 16-game winless streak, and what impressed Cubs catcher Welington Castillo was that the right-hander did not walk a batter over seven innings.
"He was able to throw all his pitches in any count," Castillo said Tuesday of Samardzija, who is second in the National League in ERA. "He just went out like his other starts. All of his pitches were working. He was throwing the ball really good, with a lot of good breaking balls, good fastballs on the hands. There were just a couple mistakes with [Pablo] Sandoval."
The Giants' slugger hit an RBI single in the first and a two-run homer in the fourth off Samardzija, but the Cubs won, 8-4. The eight runs were a surprise. The Cubs had scored eight in Samardzija's five previous starts combined.
Samardzija was the first pitcher to enter play on Memorial Day leading a league in ERA, but without a win since Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter did so in 1977.
A fielding error by Samardzija in the first led to the Giants' first run.
"If we make that play, he wouldn't have faced Sandoval that inning, and he would've led off the next inning," Castillo said. "With nobody on, no outs, [Samardzija] could have gone right at him. The thing is, when you have a hitter like that, you want to pitch carefully and that's when the mistakes come because you're trying to be too perfect. Hitters like [Sandoval] get you."
It was Samardzija's second start this season in which he did not walk a batter, and that's part of his effort to be more efficient and reduce his pitch count.
"It's like he said in Spring Training, he wants to stay out of high pitch counts, and go right at the hitters and let them put the ball in play," Castillo said of the right-hander. "He's been really good in that area."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.