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COL@CHC: Samardzija fans seven over seven solid

It hasn't been an easy road for the Cubs or the Brewers this year.

Milwaukee is in the midst of a sub-.500 season after winning the National League Central in 2011, while the Cubs are left to again wait for "next year."

But the Cubs aren't getting too down on their losses, and are beginning to build team chemistry through the rocky road of 2012.

"We win and lose as a team, so everyone feels that," Chicago's Brett Jackson said after Monday's loss to the Brewers. "It's tough for the guys on the mound just as it was tough for the guys on the field. We'll pick each other up tomorrow. We're going to have fun with this series. The beauty of baseball is you always have tomorrow."

The Cubs dropped Tuesday night's game in Chicago, as well, but will send Jeff Samardzija to the mound Wednesday night hoping to salvage the second half of the four-game series.

Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA) is looking to extend his streak of deep outings Wednesday after lasting seven innings in three of his past four starts. He didn't earn a decision in his outing on Friday against Colorado, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits in seven innings, with seven strikeouts.

Samardzija, who is in his first full season as a starter, had a rough go from the beginning against the Rockies, needing 60 pitches in the first three innings while allowing all three runs on four hits with two walks. He settled in to need just 39 pitches to get through the next four innings, and the Cubs eventually took a 5-3 win.

"If you look at all of my starts this year, that's probably one of the more proud starts I can say that I had," Samardzija said. "There's been times when I've had good stuff and it's gone smoothly. To come out early and scuffle, really not have fastball command or my slider all game, to get through the seven innings felt really good. Felt like a starting pitcher."

This time, he'll take on Mike Fiers, who is having an all-around good season despite a couple of bumps in the road.

Fiers (7-6, 2.98 ERA) was called to the starting rotation in May and started off strong, dropping his ERA below 2.00 by the end of July.

Aside from two shaky starts in the middle of August, the 27-year-old rookie has been consistent this month, and is coming off a win at Pittsburgh, where he lasted 6 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He fired 10 strikeouts en route to his seventh win of the season.

"You define a man's character in tough times, not good time," said pitching coach Rich Kranitz. "So when you see a guy scuffle, you're waiting to see what happens, how they react, how they handle themselves in the dugout, how they handle themselves on the mound, how they handle themselves to the press after the game and how they handle themselves on their work day going into the next start."

Brewers: Marcum reportedly on waivers
FOXSports.com reported that the Brewers placed right-hander Shaun Marcum on waivers Tuesday.

According to the report, Marcum's waiver period expires at noon CT on Thursday, just before his scheduled start against the Cubs.

The Brewers would have until the 10:59 p.m. CT deadline to negotiate a trade with a team, and could pull Marcum back from the waiver wire if they were unable to do so.

Marcum was 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts before developing stiffness in his right elbow after a June 14 outing at Kansas City.

Cubs: Seven-year deal with Starlin finalized
The deal that has been talked about for weeks finally went through. The Cubs signed 22-year-old Starlin Castro to a seven-year, $60 million contract extension Tuesday, securing one of the building blocks for the future of the organization.

"Only the most talented players get to the big leagues at 20," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said of Castro. "I'm sitting here with a 22-year-old veteran right now. That was a big part of our decision. The way it was looking, Starlin would be a free agent far too early. He's a big part of our future. We have four years of control of him after this year, and by doing this deal, we now have eight. He's one of the players we're building around."

At the very least, the contract will run through Castro's 20s and covers all four years of arbitration, plus his first three years of free agency.

"My family has changed, but I'm not going to change myself," Castro said. "I'm going to work hard every day on the field. I'm going to be here for a long time, and will work hard every day and be humble and stay like that for all of my career."

Worth noting
• Among Major Leaguers with 100 or more games at third base, Aramis Ramirez has both the fewest errors (six) and the highest fielding percentage (.974). He has played 111 games at third this season.

• With his errorless night Tuesday, Darwin Barney tied the NL single-season record of 113 straight games without an error by a second baseman set by San Diego's David Eckstein in 2010. Barney's feat is a single-season franchise record.

• Tuesday was the 10th time the Brewers totaled double-digit strikeouts vs. the Cubs this season.

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