Samardzija’s Unlucky Thirteen – Cubs 1, Braves 5

Game Six – Cubs 1, Braves 5

WP – Tim Hudson (1-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-1) Save – None

Jeff Samardzija dominated the Braves for five innings and set a career-high with 13 strikeouts but he could not get past Ramiro Pena in the fifth or sixth innings … and the Braves completed the sweep of the Cubs. What could have easily been a 3-3 road trip for the Cubs, Dale Sveum’s team will limp home at 2-4 to start the year.

Jeff Samardzija was incredibly sharp in the first five innings. Samardzija struck out 10 batters in the first four innings and on the day 11 of the 13 strikeouts were swinging. Samardzija had all of his pitches working before he started over throwing in the fifth.

The Braves tied the game in the fifth following a two-out double by Ramiro Pena, a walk to Tim Hudson and back-to-back wild pitches with B.J. Upton at the plate. Samardzija got out of the fifth with the game tied at one by striking out Jason Heyward swinging.

Samardzija could not complete the sixth inning after a 1-2 pitch was ruled to have hit Chris Johnson that loaded the bases with two down. Ramiro Pena then singled in two runs and chased Samardzija from the game.

Jeff Samardzija allowed four runs on four hits with four walks, a hit batsman, two wild pitches and 13 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Samardzija threw 105 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Michael Bowden allowed an inherited run to score in the sixth that was charged to Samardzija. Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless seventh. The Braves tacked on in the eighth against Hisanori Takahashi. Dan Uggla led off the inning with a solo homer over the centerfield wall.

Cubs pitching struck out 16 batters on the day but in the end the offense was not able to string enough hits together against Tim Hudson and the Braves’ bullpen.

The Cubs offense managed just five hits and one run on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs manufactured the run in the first inning after David DeJesus (1-for-3 with a double and a run scored) led off the game with a double. Starlin Castro (2-for-4) moved him to third with a deep fly to left center and Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a RBI) plated DeJesus with a groundout to first base.

The Cubs offense managed one run on five hits with two walks, 11 strikeouts and finished the day 0-for-4 with RISP while leaving seven on base.

It was a rough 24 hours for the Chicago Cubs.

David DeJesus put together a good at bat to start the game. DeJesus made Tim Hudson throw a strike before pulling a 3-1 offering off the wall in right. DeJesus ended up at second with a double … his first clean hit of the season. Starlin Castro tried to hit the ball to right side but was unable to. Castro ended up flying out to deep left center on a 0-2 pitch. DeJesus advanced to third with one down.

Anthony Rizzo got the job done by grounding out to first (1-1 pitch). DeJesus scored, 1-0 Cubs. Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija worked around two bad defensive plays in the first inning without allowing the Braves to tie the game. B.J. Upton ripped Samardzija’s first pitch past Alberto Gonzalez in the shift. Upton was credited with a hit on a play he should have made. Jason Heyward struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Upton stole second then advanced to third when Navarro’s throw ended up in centerfield. Justin Upton stepped in with his brother on third and one down. Samardzija blew a 97 mph fastball past Upton on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Samardzija collected his third strikeout of the inning by getting Evan Gattis to swing and miss at a 1-2 pitch. Samardzija threw 17 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

The game remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth. Samardzija stayed sharp and Hudson settled in … and until the fifth, the one run appeared to be all that Samardzija would need on Sunday afternoon.

Samardzija tied a career-high in strikeouts (11) when he struck out Juan Francisco swinging to start the fifth. Chris Johnson flied out to right center for the second out. Ramiro Pena lined the first pitch he saw into right for a double, just the second hit of the game given up by Samardzija. After not getting a couple of calls, Samardzija appeared to get rather upset with home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. Samardzija walked Tim Hudson.

B.J. Upton stepped in with runners on first and second with two down. Samardzija uncorked a wild pitch on a 2-2 offering to Upton that allowed both runners to advance ninety feet … Samardzija then threw one past Navarro on his very next pitch. Pena scored and tied the game at one. Samardzija struck out Jason Heyward swinging on a 3-2 pitch with runners on first and third to end the inning. Samardzija needed 87 pitches, 52 for strikes, to get through five innings of work.

After the Cubs failed to score in the sixth, the Braves chased Samardzija from the game in the home half … and put the game away.

Samardzija caught Justin Upton looking at a 0-2 pitch to start the inning … his 13th strikeout of the day. Smardzija then issued a four-pitch walk to Evan Gattis. Dan Uggla rapped the first pitch he saw to short. Castro fielded the ball and threw to Gonzalez, but his throw to first was late. Juan Francisco then smoked a 0-1 pitch back up the middle and off of Castro’s glove. Uggla ended up at third with one down.

It was ruled that Samardzija hit Chris Johnson with a 1-2 pitch. Samardzija, Navarro and Sveum argued to no avail. Marquez missed the call and awarded Johnson first base. With the bases loaded and two down, Ramiro Pena pulled a 1-2 pitch past a diving Gonzalez and into right field. Uggla and Francisco scored, 3-1 Braves. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and brought in Michael Bowden to replace an unhappy Jeff Samardzija.

Tim Hudson hit a 1-2 pitch just out of the reach of Gonzalez into right field. Hudson’s bloop single plated Johnson with the Braves’ fourth run. B.J. Upton tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

The Cubs could not take advantage of a Dan Uggla error in the seventh that ended Hudson’s day. Luis Valbuena worked a two-out walk then advanced to second when Uggla dropped a fly ball in shallow center off the bat of Alberto Gonzalez. When Steve Clevenger was announced as the pinch-hitter for Bowden, Fredi Gonzalez went to his pen for lefty Luis Avilan. Sveum countered with Scott Hairston, who grounded a 2-0 pitch to third to end the inning.

Dan Uggla led off the eighth with a solo homer over the wall in center off Hisanori Takahashi … 5-1 Braves.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth.

The Cubs face the Brewers in the home opener at Wrigley Field on Monday … the 100th season opener at the old ballyard. Edwin Jackson squares off against Marco Estrada in the first of three with the Brewers.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth