Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro reacts as he walks back to the dugout after getting out on a double play during the third inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Chicago, Saturday, April 5, 2014. Emilio Bonifacio was out at second. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: April 5, 2014 6:06PM
Manager Rick Renteria said before Saturday’s game the Cubs offense might be having “situational struggles.”
Those struggles continued.
Cliff Lee threw seven shutout innings and the Phillies beat the Cubs 2-0 for their second win of the series. Chase Utley homered for the second straight day and Domonic Brown also drove in a run, giving Lee more than enough support to beat Jeff Samardzija and a sputtering Cubs lineup.
They entered the day 4 for 33 with runners in scoring position, and that only got worse. They had 10 hits but were 0 for 7 Saturday with runners in scoring position to drop to 4 for 40 on the season, and squandered Samardzija’s second strong start to begin the year – which actually raised the Cubs’ starters’ ERA to 1.95.
After throwing seven shutout innings in Monday’s opener at Pittsburgh, Samardzija went seven Saturday and allowed two runs and six hits while striking out eight.
But that effort wasn’t enough to make up for the offense, which was shut out for the second time in five games.
“It’s not so much offensive struggles – it might be situational struggles at times – but as long as our pitching keeps us in the game and we catch the ball we’ve got a good chance every single day to have a chance to win a ballgame,” Renteria said early Saturday.
At least Samardzija did his part, though the Phillies didn’t need long to grab the lead.
Samardzija began the season with 7 2/3 shutout innings but Utley ended that early. With two outs in the first he took a 1-1 pitch through the wind and into the right-field bleachers, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Then the Cubs’ familiar problem cropped up.
The Cubs had their first good chance in the third. Samardzija and Emilio Bonifacio started the inning with singles, but Starlin Castro grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to blunt the rally. Justin Ruggiano then grounded out to short to end the inning.
Philadelphia had a chance in the fourth and capitalized. Against a laboring Samardzija, the Phillies doubled their lead on a Brown single that brought in Utley.
Once again, the Cubs had a chance to respond in the fourth. And once again, they couldn’t. Junior Lake doubled to right with one out and got to third when Mike Olt grounded back to Lee, but Welington Castillo struck out to keep the Cubs off the scoreboard.
The fifth was more of the same. Bonifacio and Castro singled with two outs but Ruggiano grounded into a fielder’s choice to strand two more runners.
Ruggiano had a chance again in the seventh with two outs after pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz and Castro singled, but he struck out to drop the Cubs to 4 for 40 on the season with runners in scoring position.