Another Utley Day for the Cubs Offense – Phillies 2, Cubs 0

Game Five – Cubs 0, Phillies 2

WP – Cliff Lee (2-0) LP – Jeff Samardzija (0-1) Save – Jonathan Papelbon (1)

Jeff Samardzija made only two mistakes during his second start of the season, but once again it was the offense that led to another loss for the Cubs on the young season.

Jeff Samardzija put together the best start of his career against the Phillies. Samardzija appeared to get stronger as he went on and ended his outing by striking out the side in the seventh inning. Samardzija limited the Phillies to two runs on six hits. Samardzija made two mistakes, both to Chase Utley. The Phillies’ second baseman hit a solo home run in the first inning. And Utley scored Philly’s second run in the fourth after a leadoff walk. Samardzija did not get the calls on two close pitches and the free pass cost him a run.

Jeff Samardzija took the loss after allowing two runs on six hits with three walks, one intentional, and eight strikeouts. Samardzija threw 113 pitches, 75 for strikes, in seven innings.

James Russell was shaky in the eighth before Justin Grimm was called on to get the last out of the inning. Grimm tossed a scoreless ninth and ended up retiring all four batters he faced. Samardzija, Russell and Grimm allowed two runs on seven hits with five walks and 11 strikeouts on Saturday afternoon.

The offense put runners on base in six of seven innings against Cliff Lee, but could not manage a hit with runners in scoring position. It is not too often a starting pitcher throws a 10-hit shutout, and that is exactly what Cliff Lee did on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. And according to Christopher Kamka, Lee became the first pitcher to allow 10 or more hits to the Cubs without allowing a run since Rick Reuschel on May 2, 1989.

After starting the season 4-for-33 with RISP, the Cubs were a miserable 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base Saturday. Five games into the season, the Cubs are 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position.

The top two hitters in the Cubs’ lineup went a combined 5-for-9 on Saturday. Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-5) and Starlin Castro (3-for-4) did their jobs. Justin Ruggiano (0-for-4, six left on base) had a bad day and showed he should not hit third in the lineup while Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4) collected two hits. Junior Lake (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) managed the Cubs only extra basehit and free pass on Saturday.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 1-4 on the season.

Jeff Samardzija made quick work of Ben Revere (grounder to second) and Jimmy Rollins (pop out to short) to start the game. Chase Utley launched a 1-1 pitch through the wind and into the bleachers in right. Six minutes into the game the Cubs were down 1-0. Samardzija could not finish off Ryan Howard and walked him (3-2 pitch) ahead of Marlon Byrd. Samardzija struck out Byrd swinging to end the inning. Samardzija needed 19 pitches, 12 for strikes, to complete the first inning.

The game remained 1-0 Phillies through the second and third innings as the Cubs offense could not string together any hits against Cliff Lee.

Jeff Samardzija did not get the calls on a 2-2 pitch or a 3-2 pitch to Chase Utley to start the fourth inning. Samardzija walked Utley. Ryan Howard blooped a single to left and the Phillies had runners on first and second with no outs to start the inning. Byrd popped a 0-2 pitch to Barney for the first out. Domonic Brown singled to left center, Utley scored and Philly took a 2-0 lead. Wil Nieves grounded into a 5-3 double play to end the inning. Mike Olt got the neighborhood call at third. He did not appear to step on the bag before making the throw across the diamond. Samardzija’s pitch count elevated to 68 (44 strikes) after four innings.

The Cubs kept hitting the ball in the bottom of the fourth, but not with runners in scoring position. The Cubs outhit the Phillies 5-4 through four innings … and were 0-for-5 with RISP while leaving four men on base.

The game remained 2-0 Philadelphia through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Samardzija did his job and put his team in position to win the game. But the offense could not cash in any of the numerous baserunners.

And that is the way the game ended, 2-0 Phillies and the second time in five games the Cubs have been shutout this season.

The Cubs and Phillies wrap up the three-game series on Sunday afternoon (1:20pm CDT). Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to face A.J. Burnett.

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt