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ATL@MIA: Santana strikes out five over six innings

Jeff Samardzija has not earned a win since Aug. 24, 2013. When he pitches opposite Braves starter Ervin Santana on Saturday night at Turner Field, the Cubs will try to end their ace's unfortunate and uncanny skid.

In 13 starts since his last victory, Samardzija has made nine quality starts, struck out 77 batters and owns a 3.40 ERA. However, the Cubs are only 2-11 in those games, including four straight losses.

Samardzija tallied all nine quality starts in his past 10 outings, a period during which he has compiled a 2.09 ERA and given up only 0.5 homers per nine innings.

In seven starts this season, Samardzija has pitched seven innings or more in every turn but one, compiling a 1.62 ERA that ranks second in the Majors. But the Cubs have provided Samardzija with only 2.14 runs of support per game.

In his most recent outing, Samardzija gave up only three hits and walked two in nine scoreless innings against the White Sox on Monday. The Cubs failed to take advantage of a Samardzija gem yet again, falling 2-0 in 12 innings.

"I was pretty hungry for that one," Samardzija said afterward.

Meanwhile, Santana entered Friday ranked ninth in the Majors averaging 5.8 runs of support per game. The Braves have yet to match the four runs they scored in Santana's most recent start on May 1, scoring only 11 in the past seven games.

Atlanta hopes the numbers hold true when Santana returns to the mound for the first time since skipping a start after he originally injured his right thumb while batting against Reds starter Homer Bailey on April 25.

His thumb swelled up during his start in Miami, but Santana threw a side session on Wednesday and experienced no further problems.

"Very good, there were no problems," Santana said following the side session. "I threw every pitch and everything was good. ... I don't feel anything today."

Cubs: Olt giving offense jolt
• Cubs third baseman Mike Olt gave Chicago a 1-0 lead on Friday night by hitting a solo home run over the left-center field wall. It was his third long ball in three games, including a grand slam on Thursday against the White Sox.

The solo shot extended the rookie's hitting streak to four games as he has raised his average from .162 to .192 during that span. He leads all National League rookies with seven home runs and 17 RBIs this season.

• Lefty reliever Zac Rosscup made his second appearance since he was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Friday night, striking out Evan Gattis and giving up a single to Chris Johnson in 2/3 of an inning.

In two appearances spanning 1 1/3 inning, Rosscup has fanned three batters.

Braves: J-Hey setting the table
• Jason Heyward finished 1-for-4 with a walk and scored the game-winning run on Friday night. Atop Atlanta's lineup, he has hit safely in 15 of his past 18 games, recording a .270 (20-for-74) clip during that stretch.

Heyward demonstrated his value in the leadoff role on Friday, drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 10th before putting himself in scoring position by stealing second base. He scored on a Freddie Freeman single two batters later.

In a week full of lineup tinkering by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, Heyward has not budged as the skipper recognizes his value at No. 1.

Worth noting
• The Cubs are now 0-18 in games during which they trail heading into the ninth inning. They appeared primed to turn the corner after tying Friday's game up 2-2 against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth but ended up losing in 10 innings.

• Chris Coghlan recorded a pinch-hit single on Friday night, upping his career pinch-hitting average to .282 (11-for-39).

• Kimbrel recorded no strikeouts when he pitched the ninth on Friday night. He had struck out 13 of the past 21 batters he faced entering the outing.

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