MESA, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija made a strong spring debut and the Chicago Cubs scored four unearned runs in the first inning against Giants ace Matt Cain, then held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday at HoHoKam Stadium.
Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro acquired as a free agent over the winter, hit a three-run homer in the first inning after Alfonso Soriano hit a line drive off the right leg of Cain and reached first as the ball caromed away. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt made a throwing error one batter earlier.
“It should be fine,” said Cain, who has been tabbed by manager Bruce Bochy to make his first career Opening Day start for the defending World Series champions. “Just some ice now. Nothing to worry about, I don’t think.
“Maybe I’ve just got to start using my glove more — or actually USING my glove.”
Cain, who finished the inning but did not take the mound in the second, said getting hit had nothing to do with giving up the home run, and said he expects to make his next spring start on schedule.
Samardzija gave up one run on three hits without a walk in his two innings of work, striking out two.
Considered a front-runner for the Cubs’ Opening Day start, Samardzija escaped far worse injury than Cain sustained. He ducked and stumbled to avoid by inches Guillermo Quiroz’ drive toward his head in the second inning.
An inning earlier Kensuke Tanaka got Samardzija with a glancing shot on another shot up the middle -shortstop Starlin Castro turned the carom into an out.
“Both of them were about as close as they get,” Samardzija said. “That’s part of the fun. You’ve got to be on your toes, be ready to go. It’s better if you knock it down and get an out like the first time.”
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the World Series MVP, continued his strong hitting from winter ball, going 2 for 3, including a run-scoring double off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol in the third.
Sandoval, who duplicated his postseason MVP effort in the Venezuelan League finals last month, started both of the Giants’ first two spring games (3-for-5, 2 RBIs).