Game Forty-Five – Cubs 0, Pirates 1
WP – Francisco Liriano (3-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (2-6) Save – Mark Melancon (1)
For the second time this season Jeff Samardzija ended up on the wrong end of a 1-0 finale. The Cubs lost their third straight one-run game, and each of the Cubs last four losses have been decided by one run … the Cubs are 6-12 this season in one-run games.
Jeff Samardzija put together another excellent outing against the Pirates and really did not make any mistakes over his seven innings of work. Samardzija surrendered just three hits but two came on consecutive pitches in the first inning that led to the only run in the game.
Andrew McCutchen reached on a two out double in the first inning and scored on a Garrett Jones single … that was it for the game. Samardzija allowed just one more hit, a walk and three total baserunners after the first inning.
Jeff Samardzija was hung with the loss after just a tremendous outing. Samardzija allowed one run on three hits with a walk, a wild pitch and eight strikeouts in seven innings. Samardzija threw 113 pitches, 73 for strikes.
The Cubs offense wasted their only scoring chance against Francisco Liriano when they loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning and came away empty. Starlin Castro (0-for-4 with a strikeout and four left on base) and Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4 with three strikeouts and four left on base) continued their struggles on Wednesday and could not deliver with the bags loaded in the third or with the tying run on base in the eighth. After going 39 at bats in between strikeouts, Anthony Rizzo has struck out eight times in his last 13 at bats.
Welington Castillo (2-for-4) tallied two of the Cubs four hits while Cody Ransom (1-for-3) and Darwin Barney (0-for-3 with a walk) also reached base.
The Cubs outhit their opponent in another one run loss (4-3) but managed only one walk while striking out 11 times. As a team, the Cubs were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs equaled a season-low nine games under .500 with a 18-27 record.
After the start of the game was delayed 11 minutes due to weather concerns, the Cubs went down in order on just eight pitches, seven for strikes. Jeff Samardzija started his night by striking out Starling Marte and retiring Travis Snider on a grounder to short. Samardzija fell behind Andrew McCutchen before McCutchen pulled 3-2 pitch into the left field corner for a double. Garrett Jones pulled Samardzija’s first into right center, McCutchen scored and the Pirates took a 1-0 lead. Samardzija retired Neil Walker on a grounder to first to end the inning.
The Pirates managed only one more hit and three more baserunners off Samardzija for the remainder of his outing.
The Cubs only scoring chance against Francisco Liriano came in the third inning. Liriano needed only 16 pitches, 13 for strikes, to retire the first six batters he faced. Cody Ransom led off the third with the Cubs’ first hit, a single to left center. Darwin Barney walked and put two on with no outs for Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija tried to bunt Ransom and Barney up ninety feet. Samardzija got the bunt down. Liriano fielded the ball and threw low to first base. Garrett Jones could not stay on the bag and the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs.
Julio Borbon pulled a 1-0 pitch toward first. Jones fielded the ball and threw to Martin to force Ransom at the plate. Liriano then struck out Starlin Castro swinging (2-2 pitch) and Anthony Rizzo flied out to right to end the inning.
Jeff Samardzija and Francisco Liriano put on quite a pitching clinic on Wednesday night. Samardzija kept the Pirates off the board while Liriano mesmerized the Cubs.
The Cubs put the tying run in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings and could not buy a clutch hit.
The Cubs managed just two hits and a walk over the first seven innings against Francisco Liriano. Lefty Tony Watson took over in the eighth and Julio Borbon reached on a bunt single with one out. Borbon bunted the ball past the mound, Watson fielded the ball and tossed to Walker covering first. Borbon dove headfirst into the bag and was called safe. Starlin Castro popped a 3-2 pitch into right field for the second out.
With Rizzo at the dish, Borbon stole second but Anthony Rizzo did a perfect Kosuke Fukudome impersonation and just about screwed himself into the ground as he struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Carlos Villanueva made his first relief appearance of the season in the eighth. Villanueva kept the Pirates from tacking on and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs down by one.
Jason Grilli was not available after the 30-plus ninth inning on Tuesday night, so Mark Melancon, who has owned the Cubs during his career, was given a chance to pick up his first save of the season. The Cubs appeared to catch a break when Alfonso Soriano chased a 2-2 pitch in the dirt that got away from Russell Martin. Soriano reached first on the wild pitch to start the ninth. Nate Schierholtz hit for Hairston and hit a little humpback liner toward third (3-1 pitch). Alvarez picked up the ball on the first bounce and threw out Soriano at second. Schierholtz took over and first and advanced to second on a single to center by Welington Castillo. Ryan Sweeney hit for Ransom and lined out to second.
With runners on first and second with two down, Darwin Barney popped a 2-2 pitch into shallow right that Walker hauled in to end the game.
Edwin Jackson faces Jeanmar Gomez in the series finale on Thursday morning (11:35am CDT).