Jeff Samardzija struck out nine in eight nearly flawless innings and the Chicago Cubs held on for a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
The right-hander allowed just two hits and walked one as the Chicago won on opening day for the first time since 2009. Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer and Wellington Castillo added an RBI double for the Cubs.
Kyuji Fujikawa got a save in his major league debut after closer Carlos Marmol struggled.
A.J. Burnett, making the first opening day start of his lengthy career, gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out 10. Pittsburgh however began a season of high expectations with a thud.
Burnett called it an honor to get the call in the opener, but the 15-year veteran showed some nerves early. Castro singled with one out and Rizzo followed with a towering two-run shot to center field that landed on the concourse behind the seats for one of the longest homers in the park's 13-year history. The ball left the park s...