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Samardzija a bright spot in Cubs' struggles

HOUSTON – Jeff Samardzija isn’t the root of the Cubs’ problems like the statistics might suggest.

Eight Cubs pitchers have taken a loss during the club’s nine-game losing streak and Samardzija is the only one to lose twice in that run.

This losing trend is mostly about a struggling offense, though. Samardzija has actually been the least of the Cubs’ worries. He is 2-2 over his last six outings with a 1.82 ERA.

“I thought I battled with guy on base, put a couple of good swings on the ball,” Samardzija said. “I need to get a couple of quicker outs there (in the fourth inning) and get our offense back in the dugout. But I thought I battled and made some pitches.”

Even on the two-run triple from J.D. Martinez in the fourth inning, Samardzija got the result he wanted. David DeJesus appeared to make a sliding catch on the right-field line but Darwin Barney, also hustling on the play, knocked the ball from DeJesus’ glove. It was the only scoring play of the night for the Astros.

It only figured that it led to another defeat and one more somber postgame locker room.

“It’s really going to show our team character here in the long run,” Samardzija said. “Things don’t always go the way you want them to, period. You have to find what adjustments you can make as a team and as an individual and keep grinding. Keep making those adjustments to get it right.”

Despite pitching well, Samardzija’s night was over after six innings and 90 pitches. He gave up his two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

“(Samardzija) was great,” acting manager Jamie Quirk said. “He was leading off there in the seventh and obviously he wanted to go back out. I said ‘Hey, you have a career. This is your first year starting and we have to watch it. You have a long career ahead of you. If you go back out you’re going to get into that 100 range. Save some pitches right now.”

After nine starts, the right-hander’s first chance to pitch in a major league rotation has been a complete success. Wednesday was the fifth time in his last six outings that he gave up two runs or less.

“I feel great … awesome,” he said. “My arm feels great, my body feels great. Pitching in a place like Houston with warm weather feels awesome. I’m really looking forward for the summer to come and really turn the heat up out there. Usually that’s when you are starts coming around and feels great.”