Giants’ Samardzija to renew acquaintances with Cubs

CHICAGO — During Jeff Samardzija’s 6 1/2 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he struggled through losing years and a rebuilding process that ultimately included his departure via trade.

The San Francisco Giants right-hander gets a close look at what the Cubs assembled as he faces the reigning World Series champions to close out a four-game Wrigley Field series on Thursday.

The Giants (20-28) hope to salvage the finale as Samardzija (1-5, 4.57 ERA) goes against recent Cubs call-up Eddie Butler (1-0, 2.00 ERA) in an afternoon matchup.

It will be the 32-year-old Samardzija’s fourth-ever start against the Cubs (24-21). He last faced Chicago in Game 4 of the 2016 National League Division Series, lasting just two innings while allowing four runs and six hits.

He’s 0-2 with a 9.75 ERA in those starts.

The Cubs wanted to keep Samardzija and offered a contract extension, which he turned down. So Chicago eventually traded Samardzija to Oakland in 2014 in a deal that brought prospect and now star shortstop Addison Russell to Chicago.

“It was the easy thing to do,” Samardzija told USA Today. “You can always sell the future, and people always buy it. It’s a great way to rebuild, and I understand that. But as a veteran guy, it was becoming a joke.”

In 2015, Samardzija signed with the crosstown Chicago White Sox, going 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA. After that season, he signed a five-year deal with the Giants and went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA last season in 2016.

Entering his 10th start of the season, he’s tied with the second-most losses in the major leagues and is coming off a no-decision despite allowing just five hits and no walks and striking out eight in the Giants’ 3-1 extra-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday.

Butler, meanwhile, will make his third Cubs start of the season and second at home. In his last outing on May 19 against Milwaukee, he threw 92 pitches inn three innings and gave up two earned runs and three hits in a no-decision.

“Just couldn’t get a good feel of the baseball,” said Butler, who had an impressive Cubs debut against the Cardinals. “I sprayed the fastball around, never really was able to establish it.”

In four career starts against San Francisco, Butler is 3-0 with a 3.22 ERA with 14 strikeouts. Two of those starts were scoreless outings of at least 5 1/3 innings.

Butler, who started the season at Triple-A Iowa, is holding down a rotation spot as Brett Anderson works his way back from lower back strain and is currently on the disabled list

Anderson threw a bullpen session this week and is scheduled to continue rehab work in Arizona.

After Thursday’s finale, the Cubs travel to Los Angeles for a weekend series with the Dodgers. The Giants return home to meet Atlanta for three games starting Friday.

The teams will meet again Aug. 7-9 for a series at AT&T Park.