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Semien, White Sox take series opener vs. Cubs in 12 innings

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Updated: May 5, 2014 11:23PM



For all the focus on White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, both were long gone by the time the 2014 Cubs-Sox opener was decided in the 12th inning by a .213-hitting rookie who entered the day leading the majors in strikeouts.

Sox third baseman Marcus Semien, who struck out twice more before the decisive inning, delivered a two-out double to left to drive home the go-ahead run as the Sox outlasted the Cubs 3-1 at Wrigley Field -- to snap a four-game losing streak to the Cubs.

After the double off Justin Grimm, pinch-hitter Paul Konerko walked to load the bases, and Alejandro De Aza followed with another walk to force in the insurance run.

They were the first earned runs of the game for the Sox, who scored after an error on a sacrifice fly in the first by Abreu – who left the game for a pinch runner in the ninth.

The Cubs had won six of the previous seven meetings between the teams, dating to 2012. The teams wrap up the two-game set at Wrigley Tuesday night before moving to the South Side for another two-game series starting Wednesday.

The Cubs left runners in scoring position to end the ninth and 11th innings.

Despite a career-high 126 pitches in a dominating nine-inning performance, Samardzija wound up without a victory for the 13th consecutive start, dating to last August.

He even produced his own run in this one, leading off the sixth with a double to left –the only hit in seven innings off Sox starter Jose Quintana -- and eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly.

But after losing a pair of would-be wins to shutouts and another pair to blown saves, he came up short in this one because the only run he allowed was a first-inning, unearned run, thanks to a throwing error by third baseman Mike Olt.

“It’s tough,” teammate Starlin Castro said. “It’s not his fault. He’s doing his job. … We have to pick him up because he’s thrown a lot of great games that he’s supposed to win.”

This was the seventh time this season, on a night he lowered his ERA to 1.62 – second only to Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto in the National League.

Samardzija, who pitched a two-hit shutout against the White Sox on the South Side last year, gave up a single to Alejandro De Aza leading off the game, then didn’t give up another hit until Adam Dunn’s two-out double in the fourth.

But Olt’s throwing error on Gordon Beckham’s grounder after the De Aza hit put runners at the corners with none out and led to Jose Abreu’s sacrifice fly for the unearned run.

Abreu was the first of 10 straight batters retired by Samardzija (11 if you count Beckham). And he retired 13 straight later in the game – including striking out the side in the sixth – until a pair of one-out walks in the ninth to Abreu and Adam Dunn.

Those were the only two walks he allowed, and he struck out seven.

But he got Dayan Viciedo to ground into a double play to finish the ninth.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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