Cubs Keep Coming Up Short to the Giants – Cubs 2, Giants 3

Game Eleven – Cubs 2, Giants 3

WP – Madison Bumgarner (3-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-2) Save – Santiago Casilla (1)

The Cubs and Giants played another close game on a frigid day at Wrigley Field … and once again the Cubs came out on the losing end in a one-run game to San Francisco.

Jeff Samardzija struggled through his six inning outing. And while his line looks good, he clearly did not have his best stuff. After making quick work of the Giants in the first inning, Samardzija’s pitch count escalated in the second and third innings. The Giants scored single runs off Samardzija in the fifth and sixth innings with a little help from the Cubs’ defense. Defensively the Cubs played another sloppy game. While they were not charged with an error, the mental and physical mistakes led to the loss.

For Samardzija’s part, he was able to limit the damage to two runs on seven hits with a walk, a hit batsman and five strikeouts in six innings. Samardzija threw 100 pitches, 60 for strikes.

The Giants tacked on a run against Michael Bowden on a pair of hits in the seventh. Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless eighth after issuing a walk to the first batter he faced. James Russell retired all three batters he faced in the ninth with a strikeout. Even with Samardzija not being at the top of his game, Cubs pitching allowed only three runs on nine hits with two walks, a HBP and seven strikeouts … easily a game that should be won, especially at home.

The Cubs offense had plenty of chances to put runs on the board early as well as tie or take the lead late. Alfonso Soriano (3-for-4) collected his first three hit game of the season, and swiped a base. But Soriano received little help from his teammates against Madison Bumgarner.

Dioner Navarro (1-for-1, a home run and two RBI) drove in both of the Cubs’ runs with his second pinch-hit homer in as many days. After taking Sergio Romo deep from the left side on Friday, Navarro hit his second pinch-hit longball from the right side on Saturday off Madison Bumgarner. Navarro became the first player since the Dodgers’ Todd Benzinger in 1992 to hit pinch hit homers from opposite sides of the plate on consecutive days.

Navarro’s pinch-hit blast with Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with two walks) on board cut the Giants’ lead to 3-2 in the seventh. But the Cubs could not capitalize with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. Welington Castillo (0-for-4) rapped into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play on the first pitch he saw from Santiago Casilla. On the day, the Cubs were a miserable 0-for-6 with RISP and left seven on base … for the season, the Cubs are 12-for-80 with runners in scoring position and have struck out 24 times.

Steve Clevenger struck out swinging to end the game and grabbed his back as he swung the bat. Clevenger hit the ground and did not move for several minutes. Clevenger had to be helped off the field and was not able to stand straight. Clevenger appears to have re-injured his oblique and should be placed on the DL on Sunday.

The Cubs had plenty of opportunities on Saturday but until they start doing the little things right, both at the plate and in the field, losses like Saturday will continue.

Jeff Samardzija did his job in the first two innings and kept the Giants off the board. San Francisco managed only one bloop single (Hunter Pence).

Alfonso Soriano led off the second with a single to right. Soriano then took second when Pence threw wide of bag. The ball ended up in foul territory and Soriano was in scoring position to start the inning. Bumgarner then hit Scott Hairston with a 1-2 pitch. The Cubs pulled off a double steal on a 0-1 pitch to Castillo.

With runners on second and third with no outs, Welington Castillo and Brent Lillibridge struck out swinging. After missing on the first two pitches, Bumgarner intentionally walked Alberto Gonzalez. With the bags juiced and two down, Samardzija grounded out to short to end the inning.

Samardzija pitched around his own mistake (walked Bumgarner) and an error by Anthony Rizzo that was later changed to a hit and did not allow the Giants to score in the third. Welington Castillo threw out Bumgarner trying to advance to second on a ball in the dirt for the second out. Pablo Sandoval grounded out to third (3-2 pitch) with runners on first and second to end the inning.

The Giants broke through in the fifth after Andres Torres ripped a 1-2 pitch into the gap in left center for a double. Crawford grounded out to second and Bumgarner popped out to center. It looked like Samardzija could get out of the jam, but Gregor Blanco singled to right, Torres scored and the Giants took a 1-0 lead. Blanco tried to advance to second but he did not see Rizzo cut the ball off. Rizzo flipped to Castro, who applied the tag to end the inning.

The Giants tacked on in the sixth after Bumgarner made quick work of the bottom of the Cubs’ lineup in the fifth.

Marco Scutaro singled to center (2-2 pitch) to start the inning. A wild pitch allowed Scutaro to take second. Sandoval drove in Scutaro with a single to center … 2-0 Giants. Samardzija then hit Posey. With runners on first and second with one down, Pence hit what should have been an inning ending double play. Lillibridge threw to Gonzalez and forced Posey but Pence beat the throw to first. Belt popped out to Lillibridge in shallow left for the second out … and Samardzija ended his day by catching Torres looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Michael Bowden took over for Samardzija in the seventh. Brandon Crawford reached on an infield single to Castro to start the inning … a slow roller back up the middle that Crawford beat out. Madison Bumgarner then dropped down a bunt that Rizzo fielded and threw to second. The play would have been close, but Castro dropped the ball. Blanco followed and dropped down a bunt. Bowden fielded it and threw a strike to Lillibridge at third. Crawford was called out. Scutaro singled to right. Bumgarner scored as Hairston missed both cutoff men. With runners on first and third with one down, Sandoval grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs’ two runs came in the seventh. Alberto Gonzalez singled to right with two down then scored when Dioner Navarro took Bumgarner deep … and into the bleachers in left center.

The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth after Starlin Castro singled and Anthony Rizzo walked (from 0-2 to walk against lefty Jeremy Affeldt). Bruce Bochy replaced Affeldt with Santiago Casilla. Soriano smoked a 1-1 pitch toward third that Sandoval could not field cleanly. Crawford picked the ball up and threw to first for the out. With runners on second and third with one down, Nate Schierholtz was sent in to hit for Hairston and was walked. Welington Castillo pulled the first pitch he saw right to Crawford … 6-4-3 inning ending double play, his second of the game.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth.

Edwin Jackson faces Tim Lincecum in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

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