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Samardzija fans career-best eight in win

Jeff Samardzija's second outing wasn't nearly impressive as his season debut in the Cubs' starting rotation. Actually, it wasn't very impressive at all.

After allowing just one earned run and coming within one out of a complete game his first time out, Samardzija nearly quadrupled his season ERA and allowed more than twice as many hits against the Cardinals on Friday. He conceded 10 hits and allowed five runs, all of which came in the fifth inning.

The result, however, was the same -- a win. Now, Samardzija, who has accounted for two of the Cubs' three wins, will get the call Thursday afternoon against the Marlins as the Cubs try to avoid a sweep and halt their four-game losing streak.

"To be honest with you, baseball is hard, hitting is hard," first baseman Jeff Baker said about the Cubs' early struggles. "Guys are busting their tail in the cage. We have an approach, we're just not executing now.

"Unfortunately, that's the way it goes. Sometimes when you try to get on the gas a little more and go harder, harder, harder it gets worse. Hopefully, guys relax and we can have better at-bats and get a little momentum and have some fun."

And while Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco isn't adjusting to a new role like Samardzija, he has already made some adjustments for Thursday's start.

With the new stadium's retractable roof -- which guarantees comfort to fans as well as protects against any rain -- the Marlins introduced early weekday getaway games to their schedule this season. Though he hasn't had much experience with weekday afternoon games in his previous six seasons with the Marlins, Nolasco does have some experience to draw from.

"I'll leave a little earlier [Wednesday night]," Nolasco said when asked if the early game affected his routine leading up to Thursday. "It's a good thing we're not too far from Spring Training, so I'm still used to getting up earlier."

Cubs: Byrd's struggles continue
Even with his base knock in Tuesday's loss, Marlon Byrd still has fewer hits than any Major Leaguer with as many at-bats as the Cubs' center fielder.

The fifth-inning single was just the third hit this season for Byrd, who raised his average to .081 with his 1-for-3 performance. He has yet to record an extra-base hit in 37 at-bats this season.

"We've got to get him going," said manager Dale Sveum, who added that he wants to see what happens with Byrd around the 100 at-bat mark. "We've got to get him swinging the bat. That's a big part of our lineup. He's playing a real nice center field. He's doing a great job out there. He's playing hard and battling and working his butt off to get out of it."

Marlins: Infante aiming for Friday return
Second baseman Omar Infante will sit out his second straight game Thursday afternoon after his mild left groin strain -- an injury that he initially suffered last week -- acted up on Tuesday night.

He originally tweaked his groin last Friday against the Astros, but aggravated the injury while legging out a double Tuesday night. Infante, who hopes to be back in the lineup Friday against the Nationals, is hitting .333 with four doubles, four home runs and six RBIs this season.

"He feels a little tight. He hurt it a little bit [Tuesday]," manager Ozzie Guillen said before Wednesday's 9-1 win. "It wasn't good enough for him to go out and play."

Infante was replaced Wednesday night by Donnie Murphy, who went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.

Worth noting
• Current Cubs players have combined to hit just .202 (17-for-84) in their careers against Nolasco.

• The Cubs' 3-9 record is the team's worst through 12 games since starting the 1997 campaign with 14 consecutive losses en route to a 68-94 season.

• Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer Wednesday night, his fourth of the season. He didn't slug his fourth homer last year until the Marlins' 44th game. He has gone deep in three straight games for the sixth time in his career. Comments