A Little Slugging Percentage and a Whole Lotta Samardzija – Cubs 4, Cardinals 2

Game Sixty-Nine – Cubs 4, Cardinals 2

WP – Jeff Samardzija (4-7) LP – Adam Wainwright (10-4) Save – Kevin Gregg (10)

wflag-pubThe Cubs ended their two-game losing streak in surprising fashion on Tuesday night in St. Louis as Jeff Samardzija outpitched Adam Wainwright and the Cubs beat the Cardinals.

The Cubs scored all four of their runs with two outs in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Nate Schierholtz and Alfonso Soriano and back-to-back jacks by Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom. The four runs would be all that Samardzija would need.

Considering the lineup he was facing it would be easy to say that Jeff Samardzija pitched his best game of the year on Tuesday night. Samardzija held the high-powered Cardinals offense to one run on five hits through the first eight innings … a Carlos Beltran solo homer in the sixth. Samardzija not only threw quality strikes but he was efficient while keeping the ball down. Samardzija recorded 14 groundball outs to one fly ball out on Tuesday.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill in the ninth in search of his second complete game of the season. Samardzija retired Beltran on a grounder to second before giving up singles to Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. Dale Sveum went to the pen for Kevin Gregg with Yadier Molina due up. Molina singled in Holliday and cut the Cubs lead to 4-2. Shane Robinson ran for Molina representing the tying run at first base.

David Freese rolled a 3-1 pitch toward second. Darwin Barney fielded the ball and flipped to Starlin Castro but Robinson slid well wide of the bag and Castro could not make a throw. Second base umpire, Fieldin Cubreth called interference on Robinson for sliding outside of the baseline and the game was over as the Cubs were credited with their fourth double play of the game.

Jeff Samardzija was charged with two runs on seven hits (two for extra bases) with a walk, a hit batsman and six strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. Samardzija threw 115 pitches, 76 for strikes, and was still hitting the mid-90s with his fastball in the eighth inning.

While it wasn’t his best outing, Kevin Gregg picked up his tenth save in as many opportunities.

The Cubs’ infield had their best game of the season on Tuesday. The Cubs not only turned four double plays but Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro made several excellent plays behind Samardzija to take hits away from the Cardinals.

The Cubs knocked around Adam Wainwright in the first inning on Tuesday and the four runs they scored against the Cardinals’ ace equaled the amount of runs (4) that Wainwright had allowed in the first inning in his 14 previous starts combined.

Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a walk) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out double in the first. What appeared to be a harmless extra basehit started a rally as Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) followed with a double that plated Schierholtz. Ryan Sweeney (2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI) then lined his second longball in a Cubs’ uniform over the wall in right. Cody Ransom (1-for-4 with a home run) followed with his eighth homer of the season.

The Cubs’ first six hits of the night went for extra bases against Adam Wainwright and they finished with eight on the night.

The Cubs picked up a rare win against a NL Central foe and improved to 29-40 on the season.

Adam Wainwright made quick work of Valbuena (fly out to center) and Castro (groundout to short) to start the game. Nate Schierholtz doubled to left on a 2-0 pitch. Alfonso Soriano stepped in and worked a full count before pulling a double into the gap in left center. Schierholtz scored and the Cubs took a surprising 1-0 lead.

Ryan Sweeney then lined a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right. Sweeney’s second homer in a Cubs’ uniform, gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Cody Ransom, subbing for Anthony Rizzo, lifted a 3-1 pitch into the stands beyond the wall in left. The Cubs hit back-to-back jacks off Wainwright and took a 4-0 lead. Castillo grounded out to short for the third out. The Cubs made Wainwright work (28 pitches, 17 strikes) and quieted the crowd in St. Louis with a four-spot on the board against Wainwright in the opening inning.

Jeff Samardzija worked around a one-out double by Carlos Beltran in the first without allowing the Cardinals to chip into the lead. Samardzija threw nine pitches in the first, eight for strikes.

Adam Wainwright settled down after the first inning. Luis Valbuena recorded the Cubs’ fifth extra basehit in the second inning, a two-out double but was stranded when Castro flied out to right to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija kept the Cardinals off the board until the sixth. Samardzija was sharp and very efficient but his defense, especially Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney really stepped up behind him. The Cubs turned three double plays between the second and fifth innings while Samardzija limited the Redbirds to three hits on 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, over the first five frames.

Ryan Sweeney reached with a two-out double off the wall in right in the sixth … the Cubs’ sixth extra basehit of the game. Wainwright struck out Ransom swinging to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija took the hill in the sixth with a 4-0 lead. Luis Valbuena made an excellent diving play to his left to take away a hit from Adam Wainwright to start the sixth. Matt Carpenter popped out to Castro for the second out.

Carlos Beltran smoked a 2-0 pitch down the right field line. The ball was hit so hard it did not have a chance to hook foul. The ball hit the foul/fair pole and Beltran’s 17th longball of the season cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-1. Samardzija retired Holliday on a grounder to third to end the inning. Samardzija needed 77 pitches, 50 for strikes, to complete six innings of work.

The Cubs could not add on in the seventh after Barney reached on a single and Samardzija bunted him to second base. With two outs, Valbuena grounded out to short to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija retired the Cardinals in order in the eighth and the Cubs could not tack on against Joe Kelly in the ninth … and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up 4-1.

Jeff Samardzija stayed in and retired Beltran on a grounder to second base. Matt Holliday then blooped a single into shallow left. Castro ran out with his back to the infield and Soriano ran in but the ball hit off Castro’s glove and fell between the two defenders. Allen Craig worked a full count before ripping a single into right. And just like that, the Cardinals had two on with one out and Yadier Molina stepping to the plate.

Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for Kevin Gregg.

Yadier Molina drove a 2-2 pitch into right. Holliday rounded third and scored the Cardinals’ second run. Mike Matheny sent Shane Robinson into run for Molina at first.

David Freese rolled a 3-1 pitch toward Darwin Barney. Barney fielded the ball and flipped to Starlin Castro but Robinson slid so far outside of the baseline that Castro could not make a throw. As Dale Sveum said in his post-game press conference, the Cubs finally got a call in St. Louis. Second base umpire, Fieldin Culbreth called Robinson for interference. Freese was out at first base by rule. Game over.

Edwin Jackson faces Jake Westbrook in game three on Wednesday night.

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Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • paulcatanese

    Neil, I cannot remember the last call for interference
    at second base, and that goes back a while. Sveum was right, a good call by the Ump.
    Molina needs to be pitched inside for the rest of the series, if it plunks him in the butt, so what. He is another Pujols for the Cards against the Cubs. He is a good, good hitter, and will continue to torment with runners on. Cannot let him beat you,
    Good solid game ( team) and a lot of positives from it.
    I have to say, Sweeney looks very comfortable to me in a Cub uniform.
    Good report Neil , not able to get it on TV.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Paul. I could not remember the last time I saw that called either. It was the right call, I’m just glad it was made.

      It’s always a good day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals.

  • calicub

    All kinds of positives from this game.

    Samardzjia got back on the horse aftr a rough patch.

    Gregg is 10/10 and his stock continues to explode.

    Cubs jumped on a great pitcher early, and held out to the end. Wainright allowed 2 HR all year previously and gave up bck to back jacks in one inning.

    The infield continued to show how important strong defense is to perserving a lead.

    And it was a Cardinals gaffe that ended the game.
    Seems to me the Cards are always playing hard but dirty, especially with that outside slide.. The time Carpenter slid outside and got hit in his pitching hand trying to block the DP.

    Unfortunately Castro continues to struggle.. when Luis Valbuena is out-batting you, you know your not having a good year!

    • paulcatanese

      The only thing I would have liked to happen was have the Shark throw the complete game, but it was the right call, as it looked as though he was losing it a bit. Good all around team effort.

    • SomeGuy27

      I agree with you except for one point:

      I think the play ending the game was very heady and far from dirty. Look at it this way; the runner knew the DP would get turned so why not slide a little wide to break it up? Best case scenario is the ump misses it and the inning/game gets extended with the winning run still coming up to the plate not to mention that contact with Castro could end up with him throwing the ball into the stands. In that case, not only does the runner from third score but it also puts the winning run at the plate and more importantly moves the tying run into scoring position.

      Worst case, the game ends with an interference call.

      • calicub

        I get what your saying but I still think there’s a fine like between playing hard and playing dirty. Castro was a ways from the bag and sliding into a fielder who has purposefully moved that far from the bag is only inviting injury both to the runner and to the fielder…

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Glad we signed Sweeney. He could stick around fo a while. Either work his way into our plans or be a valuable trade chip, probably next year if he keeps this up.

    Not to give the Cardinals any credit but man Beltran is so pure. Switch hitting, has power and plays great defense. He’s probably a borderline HoF’er at this stage in his career. Another all-star year or two and he’s probably a lock.

  • Tony_Hall

    I remember saying I liked Sweeney when we signed him and sent him to the minors where he did nothing but hit, hit and hit. No, I am not putting him in the All-Star game nor am I filling out his HOF ballot, just saying he is guy who plays the game the right way and it wouldn’t bother me if he stuck around for awhile.

    • paulcatanese

      I like that one Tony, he looks like a natural left hander, flows very smoothly .