Samardzija’s Long(ball) Afternoon – Cubs 3, Reds 5

Game One Hundred Eighteen – Cubs 3, Reds 5
WP – Johnny Cueto (16-6) LP – Jeff Samardzija (8-11) Save – Aroldis Chapman (29)

The Reds pounded three more home runs on Saturday afternoon and the Cubs dropped game one of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead on Alfonso Soriano’s 22nd homer of the season, a two-run shot off Johnny Cueto. But the Cubs offense managed only two other hits while the Reds’ offense played longball.

Jeff Samardzija had allowed only four home runs on the road this season and just three longballs in his previous six starts leading up to Saturday’s start. The Reds hit three on Saturday in a two inning span that accounted for all four runs Samardzija allowed. Samardzija did not pitch badly but with Johnny Cueto on the mound he had little room for error and his frustration was evident after Miguel Cairo hit the Reds’ third homer of the game.

Jeff Beliveau and Manny Corpas kept the Reds off the board in the sixth and seventh innings. The Reds tacked on a run in the eighth against Alberto Cabrera. Cabrera struggled with his command (17 pitches, 10 for strikes) and surrendered a run on two hits and a walk.

The Cubs offense could not string anything together against Johnny Cueto. Two of the three hits off Cueto came in the first two innings. The Cubs did not put a single runner on base after a Darwin Barney (1-for-3) infield single in the second inning until a bloop single by Welington Castillo (2-for-4 with a RBI) with two down in the seventh … 15 in a row. Johnny Cueto retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced and improved to 11-0 in day games this season.

The Cubs third run came in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs became the first National League team since the Pirates on June 7 to score an earned run against Chapman. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored) reached on a two-out single off Todd Frazier’s glove. Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a walk) walked and Welington Castillo blooped a single into left that plated Soriano. But Joe Mather hit for Brett Jackson and went down swinging to end the game.

The Cubs scored three runs on five hits with a walk and a hit batsman … seven total baserunners and only 1-for-2 with runners in scoring position with four left on base.

Alfonso Soriano launched a two-run homer in the first inning off Johnny Cueto that gave the Cubs an early lead. The two-run blast was a milestone for Soriano and gave him 1000 RBI for his career. Soriano became just the sixth player in Major League history to record 1000 RBI, 400 doubles, 350 home runs and 250 stolen bases … the other five players: Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.

With Saturday’s game one loss, the Cubs dropped to a season-low 26 games under .500 with a 46-72 record … Johnny Cueto grazed David DeJesus’ uniform on a 0-2 pitch to begin the day. Josh Vitters stepped in and squared up a 0-2 pitch and drove the ball into deep left center. Vitters appeared to just miss Cueto’s 0-2 mistake. Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging for the second out.

Alfonso Soriano worked a full count then launched the seventh pitch of the at bat. Soriano hit a no-doubter to the upper deck beyond the left field wall. Soriano’s 22nd longball of the season gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead … and gave Soriano 1000 RBI for his career. Starlin Castro grounded out to short (3-1 pitch) to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija was sharp in the first inning. Samardzija struck out two of the four batters he faced and there should have been a third. Cozart struck out swinging but Heisey was awarded first base after getting hit on the hand with a 0-2 pitch. Heisey appeared to be swinging at the pitch when the ball hit him. Samardzija argued to no avail. Brandon Phillips flied out to left center for the second out.

With Jay Bruce at the plate, the Cubs caught Heisey leaning. Samardzija’s throw was low and Rizzo could not haul it in. Heisey advanced to second on Samardzija’s error … the third by a Cubs’ starting pitcher in two days. Bruce struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning. Samardzija threw 16 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

Welington Castillo struck out swinging and Brett Jackson grounded out to second to begin the second. Darwin Barney reached on a tapper up the third baseline (0-2 pitch) but Samardzija hit a weak grounder to Cozart, who stepped on the bag to end the inning.

Todd Frazier led off the second with a single to center … the Cubs’ keep pitching to him and he keeps hitting the ball. Samardzija fell behind Xavier Paul 2-0. Paul lined Samardzija’s next pitch into the seats in right center. Paul’s first homer of the season tied the game at two.

Samardzija retired the next three batters he faced (Cairo, groundout to short; Hanigan, groundout to first; Cueto, groundout to short) to end the inning … 31 pitches for Samardzija after two, 24 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the third. Cueto needed 43 pitches, 32 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.

Zack Cozart led off the third with a soft liner toward the left field line. Cozart slid in safe at second just ahead of Soriano’s throw with a double. Samardzija struck out Heisey swinging on three pitches. Brandon Phillips flied out to center (0-2 pitch). Cozart tagged and advanced to third. Jay Bruce grounded out to second (2-1 pitch) for the third out. Samardzija needed 45 pitches, 34 for strikes, to complete three innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the fourth.

The Reds took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. The Cubs continue to pitch to Todd Frazier and the rookie continues to make them pay. Frazier pulled an inside pitch (3-2 count) to the upper deck in left … 3-2 Reds. Xavier Paul fouled out to Rizzo for the first out. Miguel Cairo lined a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left and just like that the Reds had a two-run lead on Cairo’s first homer of the season. A disgusted Samardzija struck out Hanigan and retired Cueto on a foul out to Rizzo to end the inning … 64 pitches for Samardzija after four, 47 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth. Cueto recorded three outs on six pitches (61 for the game, 44 for strikes).

Starlin Castro took a hit away from Cozart to start the fifth. Cozart smacked a 2-1 pitch toward short that Castro stopped and made a strong throw to Rizzo. The Cubs caught a break as replays showed Rizzo was off the bag. Chris Heisey singled to right (2-2 pitch) and advanced to second on a grounder to short off the bat of Brandon Phillips. Heisey was running on the full count pitch to Phillips. The first pitch to Bruce got away from Castillo and Heisey advanced to third but was stranded when Samardzija struck out Bruce to end the inning. Samardzija threw 86 pitches, 61 for strikes, in the first five innings.

After five, the Cubs trailed 4-2.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth. Johnny Cueto struck out the top of the Cubs order swinging … 76 pitches for Cueto after six, 55 for strikes.

Jeff Beliveau labored through a long, 29-pitch sixth inning but did not allow any runs. Beliveau retired Todd Frazier on a pop out to Rizzo in foul ground. Xavier Paul walked and Cairo flied out to right for the second out. Beliveau pitched around Ryan Hanigan and walked him. Before the first pitch to Cueto, Beliveau balked and runners moved up ninety feet. Johnny Cueto grounded out to Barney (2-2 pitch) for the third out.

Cueto struck out Soriano to begin the seventh. Castro hit the first pitch he saw to third. Frazier threw out Castro for the second out … 15 in a row retired by Cueto at that point. Welington Castillo blooped a single into center but Jackson flied out to left center to end the inning … 91 pitches for Cueto after seven, 64 for strikes.

Manny Corpas set down the Reds in order in the seventh.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth … Cueto finished his day by retiring 19 of the last 20 batters he faced.

The Reds added to their lead against Alberto Cabrera in the eighth. Jay Bruce drove a 1-0 pitch off the wall in left center. Bruce ended up at third with a leadoff triple. Todd Frazier lifted the second pitch he saw into center. Bruce tagged and scored, 5-2 Reds. Paul grounded out to first before Cairo worked a two-out walk. Ryan Hanigan singled to left (0-2 pitch). Ryan Ludwick hit for Cueto and grounded out to second to end the inning.

After eight, the Cubs trailed 5-2 and Dusty Baker went to his pen (again) for Aroldis Chapman.

Aroldis Chapman struck out Josh Vitters swinging (third time in three at bats against Chapman) for the first out. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to first. Alfonso Soriano showed a lot of patience and ripped a 3-1 pitch toward third. Frazier could not haul in the hot shot. The ball ended up in left and Soriano ended up at first with a two-out single. Starlin Castro walked and the Cubs had a pulse.

With runners on first and second with two-down, Welington Castillo put together a good at bat that ended with a bloop single down the left field line. Soriano scored and Castro advanced to third but Castillo watched the ball instead of running out of the box. Castillo had to stop at first instead of standing at second with the tying run.

Dale Sveum went to his bench. Travis Wood ran for Castillo and Mather hit for Brett Jackson. Chapman made quick work of the overmatched Joe Mather and struck him out swinging on three pitches to end the game.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Game two of the twin bill begins at 6:10pm CDT … Brooks Raley against Todd Redmond.

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