CHICAGO — Jeff Samardzija finally got to make a playoff start at Wrigley Field, and it worked out really well for his former team.
Samardzija lasted just two innings in the shortest start of his career and San Francisco was shut down by Chicago’s bullpen in a 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Saturday night, putting the Giants on the brink of elimination two games into their best-of-five NL Division Series.
“Just can’t put your team in that much of a hole early in the game, especially against a good staff like they have over there,” Samardzija said. “Like to have that one back, for sure, that one’s on me.”
Gregor Blanco hit an RBI double and Brandon Belt added a sacrifice fly in San Francisco’s two-run third, but that was it for the Giants in another sluggish performance at the plate. They have scored in just two of their 27 innings in this year’s postseason, winning 3-0 on Conor Gillaspie’s ninth-inning homer in the wild-card game against the Mets and losing 1-0 in the NLDS opener Friday night.
San Francisco won the World Series in 2010, ’12 and ’14, and its playoff win against New York on Wednesday was reminiscent of its even-year magic during those title runs. But the Giants’ lackluster stay in Chicago put them in a big hole against the loaded Cubs, who led the majors with 103 wins this year.
“You know you never want to get down 0-2 but at this point we just have to win three in a row,” second baseman Joe Panik said. “We’ve done it before and just got to do it again.”
The biggest positive for the Giants: Madison Bumgarner is lined up for Game 3 on Monday night in San Francisco. The big left-hander tossed a four-hitter in the wild-card win and is 6-1 with a microscopic 0.79 ERA in his last nine playoff appearances.
San Francisco also can draw from its 2012 title run, when it dropped the first two games of the division series against Cincinnati and won three in a row to advance. The Giants then fell behind 3-1 in the NLCS against St. Louis and stayed alive again.
“It gives you a lot of confidence, the fact that you’ve been in this position before,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy’s club was looking to rebound in Game 2 against the Cubs after it managed just six hits against Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman in the series opener. But the Giants trailed from the very beginning in Samardzija’s second career start at Wrigley as a visitor.
Samardzija was drafted by the Cubs in 2006 and spent his first 6 1/2 seasons with the team before he was traded to Oakland in the 2014 deal that brought shortstop Addison Russell to the Cubs. His only previous playoff appearance was a relief outing for Chicago against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 Division Series.
The right-hander, a native of nearby Merrillville, Indiana, who played baseball and football at Notre Dame, fell behind in the first when Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff double and scored on Ben Zobrist’s two-out RBI single.
The Cubs added three more in the second. The big blow was pitcher Kyle Hendricks’ two-run single on a flare to center.
Samardzija “made some mistakes and the broken-bat hit to the pitcher, that one hurt a little bit,” catcher Buster Posey said.
Bochy hit for Samardzija in the third. The righty allowed six hits and walked one, throwing 33 of his 47 pitches for strikes.
“Obviously, there’s some pitches you like to have back,” he said. “I don’t think the location was necessarily all that bad. It was just, for me, it was falling behind in the count and then not being able to put guys away.”
Hendricks departed in the fourth with a bruised right forearm after he was struck by Angel Pagan’s line drive with two out. But the Giants managed just two hits against five Cubs relievers.
Travis Wood, who replaced Hendricks, got four outs and homered against George Kontos in the fourth. Chapman pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.
The Giants finished with six hits. Bochy even tried Bumgarner as a pinch hitter in the fifth — third baseman Kris Bryant bobbled Bumgarner’s grounder for an error, then threw the ball away to let Bumgarner reach second base with one out. He was stranded there.
“Playoff baseball, very rarely do you play 10-8 games. It’s all low-scoring,” Panik said. “Obviously there’s things we can do better as an offense, but this is the type of scoring that you expect in a postseason game.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap