Samardzija is King in the Queen City – Cubs 3, Reds 1

Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 3, Reds 1
WP – Jeff Samardzija (3-1) LP – Bronson Arroyo (1-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (2)

wflag.jpgDale Sveum’s team put together their best performance of the season Wednesday night in Cincinnati. Jeff Samardzija pitched a gem, home runs by Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart ended up being the difference and the Cubs defense made several highlight reel plays … and the routine ones too.

Jeff Samardzija picked up where he left off against the Cardinals eight days ago. Samardzija was very efficient over his 7 2/3 innings (49 pitches after five innings) and dominated the Reds from his first pitch of the game. Samardzija recorded a lot of quick outs and kept Cincinnati’s offense guessing all night. Samardzija allowed one run on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts on just 94 pitches, 60 for strikes.

Jeff Samardzija was still throwing in the mid-90s when he was lifted with two outs in the eighth.

Rafael Dolis finished the eighth by striking out the only batter he faced.

Carlos Marmol put together one of his best outings of the season. Marmol retired Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in order to end the game. Marmol struck out Stubbs and Phillips and threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, to earn his second save of the season.

The team that entered play last in the majors with homers (9) hit two dingers Wednesday night that ended up being the difference in the game. Bryan LaHair (1-for-4 with a home run) gave the Cubs an early lead with his sixth longball of the season in the second. LaHair has reached base safely in his last 20 games, one short of the franchise record for first basemen (Derrek Lee, 21 in 2009).

Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a home run) hit his second homer of the season in the fourth and gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Geovany Soto (2-for-3 with a RBI and walk) had a good night at the plate. Soto drove in Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a run scored) with a single in the sixth. Soto’s second RBI of the year gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with a double.

The Cubs defense was more than solid. Plays by Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano, Blake DeWitt, Starlin Castro and David DeJesus helped keep the Reds off the bases and Samardzija rolling. The Cubs have been charged with two errors in their last eight games.

With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 9-15 on the season (3-2 on the current five-game trip) …

David DeJesus started the game by grounding out to first (0-1 pitch). Tony Campana then struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Starlin Castro ripped Arroyo’s first pitch into the left field corner for his sixth double of the season. After a 1-1 pitch to Bryan LaHair, Arroyo caught Castro leaning and picked him off second base.

Jeff Samardzija came out throwing strikes in the first … and actually recorded four outs. After making quick work of Zack Cozart (first pitch, pop out to center) and striking out Drew Stubbs on three pitches, Samardzija struck out Joey Votto swinging but Soto did not catch the ball. The mistake was ruled a wild pitch and Votto reached first. Brandon Phillips flied out to right on the first pitch to end the inning.

Samardzija retired the side in order on eight pitches … all strikes.

Bryan LaHair led off the second and launched a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right center. LaHair’s sixth longball of the season gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Alfonso Soriano followed with a single to left (0-2 pitch). Ian Stewart advanced Soriano to second with a swinging bunt … and DeWitt advanced Soriano to third with a swinging bunt up the first base line. Soto fell behind 1-2 before working a two-out walk. With runners on first and third, Jeff Samardzija popped out to second to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Reds in order in the second. Samardzija threw 18 pitches in the first two innings, 14 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Arroyo in the third.

The Reds went down in order in the bottom of the third … 1-2-3 on eight pitches, seven for strikes (26 total after three for Samardzija, 21 for strikes).

Bryan LaHair grounded out to Votto on Arroyo’s first pitch of the fourth. Soriano predictably struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out.

Ian Stewart lined the first pitch over the wall in right. Stewart’s second longball of the season gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. DeWitt popped out to left (2-2 pitch) for the third out.

The Reds finally got to Jeff Samardzija in the bottom of the fourth.

Ian Stewart made an outstanding barehanded play to take away an infield hit from Drew Stubbs. Stubbs hit a slow roller up the third baseline. Stewart picked and threw in one motion to nail Stubbs for the first out.

Samardzija issued his first free pass of the night to Joey Votto. Votto then took off for second on a 0-2 pitch to Brandon Phillips. Phillips blooped an inside fastball into right center. Votto ended up a third with one out.

Jay Bruce hit a 1-1 pitch towards first. LaHair fielded the ball, stepped on first and threw to second. Phillips realized the situation, stopped, got hung up in a run down and gave Votto time to score. After Votto crossed home plate, Castro tagged Phillips to end the inning (3-6-3-6).

After four, the Cubs led 2-1.

Geovany Soto led off the Cubs’ fifth with a single to center. Samardzija bunted Soto to second. David DeJesus flied out to left (1-0 pitch) for the second out. Tony Campana reached on an infield single with two outs. Campana hit a chopper to the hole at first, Votto committed and Campana beat Arroyo and Votto to the bag. Castro flied out to center on the first pitch to end the inning.

Samardzija retired Rolen on one pitch to start the fifth (groundout to second). Chris Heisey pulled a 2-0 pitch down the third baseline. Off the bat it looked like a double but Stewart made an excellent diving stop. Stewart lost the ball as he tried to throw to first from his knees. Heisey reached with one out but Stewart’s play kept the double play in order.

Ryan Hanigan smoked a 1-2 pitch back up the middle but on the first base side of second. Blake DeWitt made an excellent diving stop, shuffled the ball to Castro and the Cubs’ shortstop made a tremendous throw to first to complete the double play.

Jeff Samardzija threw 49 pitches in the first five innings, 35 for strikes.

Bryan LaHair fouled out to left to start the sixth. The Cubs new singles hitter came through with his second of the night. Alfonso Soriano singled to left on a 1-0 pitch. Stewart blooped out to Cozart in shallow center for the second out.

Blake DeWitt lined a 3-2 pitch into right center. Soriano ended up at third with two down and scored on a single to left by Geovany Soto (1-2 pitch). Soto’s second RBI of the season gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Jeff Samardzija grounded out to Votto (first pitch) to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Reds in order in the sixth. Samardzija struck out two more and at the end of six, Samardzija had thrown only 61 pitches, 43 for strikes.

Sam LeCure took over for Arroyo in the seventh … and retired DeJesus (grounded out to first) and Campana (struck out swinging for the third time in the game). Starlin Castro blooped a 1-2 pitch into center but for the second time Wednesday night he was thrown out on the bases to end the inning … with Bryan LaHair at the plate. Castro tried to take second on a delayed steal after a 2-0 pitch to LaHair. Hanigan threw him out to end the inning.

Alfonso Soriano made a diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Joey Votto (3-2 pitch) to start the bottom of the seventh. Samardzija caught Phillips looking on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Jay Bruce just missed his fifth homer in five games. Bruce cranked a 2-1 pitch into left center. The ball one-hopped the wall and Bruce ended up at second with a double. Rolen struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija threw 84 pitches in seven innings, 55 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the top of the eighth against Sam LeCure. Soriano drove a 1-0 pitch to the wall in left … but it was just a long out.

Jeff Samardzija started the eighth and retired Chris Heisey on a fly out to left. Ryan Hanigan lined out to right center (0-1 pitch). Samardzija issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Todd Frazier. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and Samardzija’s night was over.

Rafael Dolis came in and struck out Zack Cozart looking to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth against J.J. Hoover … and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 3-1 lead.

Carlos Marmol jumped ahead of the free-swinging Drew Stubbs 0-2. Stubbs worked the count back to 3-2 before looking at strike three. Joey Votto drove a 1-2 to left. Reed Johnson caught the ball with his back against the wall. Brandon Phillips looked at a 1-2 pitch … game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Homer Bailey in the series finale Thursday morning (11:35am CDT).

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax