Game Ninety-Five – Cubs 2, Pirates 0
WP – Jeff Samardzija (7-8) LP – Erik Bedard (5-11) Save – Carlos Marmol (12)
Jeff Samardzija put together his best start of the season Monday night in the Steel City … and ended the Cubs’ three-game losing streak. Samardzija dominated a very good Pirates’ offense and if not for his own mental error he would have taken a no-hitter into the ninth inning. Samardzija mixed his pitches well and took advantage of the aggressive Pirates’ offense.
Jeff Samardzija gave up one hit with a walk and five strikeouts on 99 pitches, 71 for strikes. Samardzija faced just one over the minimum in eight spectacular innings. Andrew McCutchen was the only batter to reach against Samardzija. McCutchen walked in the first inning then reached on an infield single in the fourth. McCutchen hit a 0-2 pitch to Rizzo in the hole. Samardzija forgot to break for first base and McCutchen ended up beating him to the bag.
Carlos Marmol had one of his better outings of the season. Marmol struck out two of the four batters he faced and did not let a miscue by Starlin Castro change the inning.
Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol combined on a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and only one free pass.
Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano were the Cubs’ offense. The Cubs managed only four hits and Castro and Soriano recorded three of them. Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored) scored both of the Cubs’ run on two doubles by Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI). Both times Soriano drove the ball into right center and plated Castro all the way from first base.
Geovany Soto (1-for-3 with a walk), Reed Johnson (0-for-3 with a walk) and Luis Valbuena (0-for-0 with a walk) were the only other Cubs to reach base. The Cubs struck out 14 times on Monday night with Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4) going down swinging three times.
With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 39-56 on the season … Reed Johnson started the game by working a walk against Erik Bedard. Starlin Castro did a good job of working the count as well but flied out to right (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Anthony Rizzo got jammed and lined out to short. Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. Bedard threw 19 pitches in the first, eight for strikes.
Jeff Samardzija was sharp in the first inning. Other than a one-out walk by Andrew McCutchen (35th straight game against the Cubs that McCutchen has reached base), the Pirates did nothing against Samardzija. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the first, 11 for strikes.
The Cubs did nothing in the second, 27 innings without a run of the Cubs … 31 pitches for Bedard after two, 15 for strikes.
Samardzija set down the Bucs in order in the bottom of the second. Samardzija threw 27 pitches in the first two frames, 16 for strikes.
The Cubs increased their scoreless innings streak to 28 when Erik Bedard set them down in order in the third. The Cubs were working the count (44 pitches for Bedard, 25 for strikes) but were not getting any results.
Samardzija retired the Pirates in order in the third.
Starlin Castro led off the fourth with the Cubs’ second walk of the game. Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging but Alfonso Soriano drove a 1-0 pitch into the gap in right center. Soriano notched the first hit of the game and his double to right center plated Castro all the way from first base. Jeff Baker (groundout to short) and Geovany Soto (called strike three on 2-2 pitch) could not plate Soriano. Bedard threw 65 pitches in first four innings, 37 for strikes.
Jeff Samardzija ended up facing the minimum in the fourth after allowing his first hit of the game. Neil Walker flied out to center to begin the inning. Andrew McCutchen hit a 0-2 pitch toward the hole between first and second. Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball, not Darwin Barney, and Samardzija did not break for the bag right away. McCutchen ended up with an infield single. Samardzija fell behind Garrett Jones 2-0. McCutchen then took off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Jones. The ball was high and outside which helped Soto. Geovany Soto threw a strike to Castro and nailed McCutchen at second. Jones popped out to Barney in shallow right for the third out … 56 pitches for Samardzija, 37 for strikes.
After four, the Cubs led 1-0.
The Cubs went down in order in the fifth. Bedard struck out both Mather and Samardzija in the inning. After five, Bedard had eight strikeouts on 77 pitches, 45 for strikes.
Samardzija needed just six pitches to get through the fifth. Samardzija retired the Pirates in order and after five Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 62 (42 for strikes).
The Cubs did nothing in the sixth and Bedard added two more to his strikeout total. Bedard struck out Castro (looking) and Rizzo (swinging) to end the inning … 92 pitches for Bedard after six, 55 for strikes.
Samardzija retired the Bucs in order in the bottom of the sixth. Samardzija needed only 76 pitches to get through six, 54 for strikes.
Geovany Soto notched the Cubs’ second hit of the game, a two-out single to left. Soriano grounded out to short and Baker flied out to left to start the seventh. Joe Mather worked a full count but struck out swinging to end the inning … the 11th strikeout of the night by Erik Bedard.
Samardzija retired Walker (flyout to left center), McCutchen (swinging strikeout) and Jones (swinging strikeout) in order in the seventh. Samardzija threw a 97 mph fastball past Jones to end the inning … 91 pitches for Samardzija after seven, 65 for strikes.
The Cubs did nothing against Chris Resop in the eighth.
David DeJesus took over in center, Reed Johnson moved to right and Luis Valbuena replaced Mather at third in the bottom of the eighth. Samardzija took care of the Pirates quickly in the eighth … 1-2-3 for Samardzija on eight pitches (99 pitches for the game, 71 for strikes).
The game went to the ninth clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Starlin Castro led off the ninth with a single to center (0-2 pitch) off Chris Resop. Clint Hurdle went to his pen and brought in lefty Tony Watson to face Rizzo. Rizzo struck out swinging and appeared very frustrated with himself after his third strikeout of the game. Hurdle left in the lefty Watson to face Soriano and it cost him. Sveum called for a hit and run on a 2-1 pitch. Soriano drove Watson’s pitch into right center. Castro slowed down but picked it back up as the ball sailed over the head of Garrett Jones. Castro scored the Cubs’ second run on Soriano’s second double of the game.
Tony Campana ran for Soriano and advanced to third when Watson’s pick-off attempt ended up in center. David DeJesus could not check his swing with the infield in and struck out.
With two out and a big insurance run on third, Hurdle went back to his pen and summoned Evan Meek. Meek walked Geovany Soto and Luis Valbuena to load the bases. Darwin Barney hit the first pitch he saw back up the middle to end the inning.
The game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up by only a 2-0 score.
Carlos Marmol took over and gave up what was ruled an infield single to Josh Harrison. Harrison hit a 0-2 pitch to the hole at short. Castro did a good job getting to the ball but had to reach in his glove twice and that cost him. Castro made an off-balance throw to first that was wide of the bag. Marmol refocused and struck out both pinch-hitter Drew Sutton and Alex Presley swinging.
The red-hot Neil Walker stepped in representing the tying run … and grounded a 0-1 pitch to Castro to end the game.
Paul Maholm is scheduled to face James McDonald on Tuesday night.
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