Three weeks before he takes the mound on Opening Day in Pittsburgh, Jeff Samardzija moved closer to being ready for the Cubs' first game that counts.

While Samardzija's line -- 4 2/3 innings, 4 earned runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 home runs allowed -- wasn't what he'll look for in 21 days, he was nevertheless encouraged by how he felt after ramping up the intensity for the first time this spring.

"I really thought today was a big turn for me, just how I felt, my pitch execution -- if I missed, I didn't miss by much," Samardzija said. "The adjustments I need to make are pretty simple, I feel like."

Samardzija hit about a 400-foot home run in the fifth inning off Arizona's Eury De La Rosa, driving the left-hander's offering just to the left of the batter's eye at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

"Close your eyes and you run into some things some times," Samardzija grinned.