Nats Knock Around Samardzija – Cubs 3, Nationals 7

Game Thirty-Five – Cubs 3, Nationals 7

WP – Ross Detwiler (2-3) LP – Jeff Samardzija (1-5) Save – None

It took only two hours and 23 minutes for the Nationals to hand the Cubs their 22nd loss of the season. The Cubs dropped their fifth straight, eight of the last nine, at Nationals Park on a night Jeff Samardzija just didn’t have it.

Jeff Samardzija had his worst outing since last June and one of his worst games since becoming a starter. Samardzija gave up season highs in runs, earned runs and hits in route to his fifth loss of the year. The Nationals squared up Samardzija throughout his outing … all four of the Nationals extra base hits plated at least one run.

Jeff Samardzija committed an error for the second straight start that led to the two unearned runs on Friday night. Cubs’ starters have been charged with a league-worst eight errors this year. Samardzija’s miscue in the second led to the Nationals first two runs and an early lead. After the Cubs tied it up in the third, the Nationals pulled ahead in the fourth on a two-run homer by Ian Desmond (3-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBI and three runs scored) and put the game away with a three-spot in the fifth inning. Samardzija appeared to lose his composure after Ian Desmond doubled with two outs in the fifth and gave up two more runs before he could record the third out. Samardzija hung several sliders, had very little downward movement with his fastball and it cost him the game.

Samardzija surrendered seven runs, five earned, on eight hits with two walks, five strikeouts and one huge error in five innings. Samardzija threw only 73 pitches, 50 for strikes.

The Cubs bullpen (Hector Rondon, Kyuji Fujikawa and Shawn Camp) kept the Nationals off the board over the final three innings but the offense was not able to cash in a season-high seven doubles.

The Cubs outhit the Nationals 10-9 on Friday night and recorded a season-high seven doubles. It is not too often that a team hits seven doubles and scores only three runs. But the Cubs did and finished the night 2-for-14 with RISP and left seven men on base.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with two doubles, a RBI and a run scored) hit leadoff on Friday night. Castro doubled to start the game and scored on an Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) groundout out. Castro then doubled in Jeff Samardzija (1-for-2 with a double and a run scored) with the Cubs’ second run in the third inning.

Ryan Sweeney (2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored) had a very good game in his first start with the Cubs. Sweeney scored the third run on a ground out by pinch hitter David DeJesus in the ninth inning.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to a season-low nine games under .500.

Friday night began on a very positive note for the Cubs. Starlin Castro doubled down the right field line to start the game (2-1 pitch). Cody Ransom worked a full count before hitting a dribbler to the first base side of the mound. Ross Detwiler fielded, looked at third before taking the sure out at first. Castro advanced to third and scored when Anthony Rizzo pulled the first pitch to the hole at second. Alfonso Soriano continued to struggle and fouled out to end the inning.

Samardzija struck out two of the first three batters he faced on nine pitches, eight strikes, to start his night. Samardzija looked very good in the opening inning before losing it in the second frame.

Ian Desmond reached on an infield single to short with one out in the second. Danny Espinosa followed and tapped a 1-1 pitch back to the mound. Samardzija bobbled the ball, then could not pick it up. Instead of what should have been an inning ending double play, the Nationals had runners on first and second with one down.

After Tyler Moore fouled out to Ransom, Kurt Suzuki doubled off the wall in right. Desmond and Espinosa scored, 2-1 Nationals. Detwiler grounded out to Rizzo for the third out.

Jeff Samardzija led off the third with a double to left, his first hit of the season. Starlin Castro followed with a double to right center (2-1 pitch). Samardzija scored and tied the game at two. Ransom worked another full count before swinging and missing at the 3-2 pitch for the first out. Anthony Rizzo pulled a 1-1 pitch into right. Castro rounded third and was sent to the plate. Roger Bernadina threw a strike to Suzuki and cut down Castro at the plate for the second out. Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.

Samardzija retired the side in order in the third. Samardzija needed only 35 pitches, 27 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.

Scott Hairston led off the fourth with a double into the corner in left. But the Cubs could not drive him in. Castillo flied out to shallow right, Sweeney grounded out to second and with Hairston at third, Barney fouled out to LaRoche to end the inning.

Adam LaRoche led off the fourth with a single to center then trotted around the bases when Ian Desmond pulled a 0-1 hanging slider from Samardzija into the stands in left. Desmond’s fifth homer of the season gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Samardzija settled down and struck out Espinosa before giving up a single to Tyler Moore. But Suzuki flied out to right and Samardzija caught Detwiler looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Denard Span made a fine diving catch to take an extra basehit away from Samardzija to start the fifth. Cody Ransom doubled to left with two down but Rizzo grounded out to second for the third out.

The Nationals put the game away in the fifth.

Samardzija issued a leadoff walk to Denard Span. Roger Bernadina grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and it looked like Samardzija could escape the fifth. Samardzija’s control problems continued and he issued hit second walk of the night, and inning, to Ryan Zimmerman. Adam LaRoche pulled a 1-2 pitch into right. Scott Hairston dove to try and catch the sinking liner but came up short. The ball hit off the end of his glove, Zimmerman ended up at third and Samardzija was in trouble.

Ian Desmond followed with a double to right. Zimmerman scored and LaRoche ended up at third. Danny Espinosa then launched the first pitch he saw high off the wall in right center. LaRoche and Desmond scored easily on the double … 7-2 Nationals. Tyler Moore flied out to deep left center to finally end the inning.

The game remained 7-2 until the ninth.

Ryan Sweeney worked a one out walk. Darwin Barney then ended his 0-for-24 skid with a double to left off Craig Stammen. David DeJesus hit for Shawn Camp and rolled the first pitch he saw out to second base. Sweeney scored, 7-3 Nationals. With Barney at third and two down, Castro pulled the first pitch to Zimmerman at third … who threw across the diamond to end the game.

Weather permittingEdwin Jackson faces Stephen Strasburg on Saturday afternoon.

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