for this game

Samardzija seeks some run support in opener against Cards

Apr 11, 2014 - 2:13 PM ( - Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija hopes for some long lost run support on Friday night when the Cubs visit Busch Stadium to open a three- game weekend series with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

The former Notre Dame football player has posted a stingy 1.29 earned run average through a pair of starts to begin the 2014 season, but has received zero runs on his side of the scoreboard in two straight Chicago losses by shutout.

He's given up just two runs and 11 hits in 14 innings, with 11 strikeouts.

Samardzija was 1-1 in two starts at Busch Stadium in 2013.

He'll be opposed there this time by St. Louis starter Joe Kelly, who was a winner in relief when Samardzija last pitched in St. Louis.

Kelly opened as a starter in 2014 and was a 6-1 winner at Pittsburgh on Saturday after allowing just the one run and walking four in 5 1/3 innings.

In four career starts against the Cubs, he's 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA.

On Thursday in Chicago, Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider homered in a five-run seventh inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates held on for a 5-4 win over the Cubs.

Chicago loaded the bases against Jason Grilli in the ninth inning but didn't score. The Cubs had led, 4-0, in that one.

Meanwhile in St. Louis on Wednesday, Mike Leake tossed eight scoreless innings and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cardinals, 4-0, to avoid a three-game sweep.

St. Louis starter Shelby Miller (0-2) gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out five over six full frames.

The Cardinals were 12-7 versus the Cubs a year ago.