Cubs can’t support Jeff Samardzija again in loss to Braves
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Repoter May 10, 2014 9:51PM
Updated: May 11, 2014 12:34AM
ATLANTA — Forget offering more money in those dead-end contract negotiations. A few runs might look a lot more valuable to Jeff Samardzija these days.
The Cubs’ tough-luck starter pitched six more scoreless innings for naught Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, emerging winless for the 14th consecutive start dating to last August.
If not for a rain delay that began at the end of the second and lasted more than an hour, Samardzija might have gone eight or nine innings again with a chance to help the Cubs prevent the 2-0 loss to the Braves at Turner Field, the Cubs’ sixth loss in seven games.
As it was, he lowered his ERA to 1.45 through eight starts, second only to the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Cueto’s 1.43.
Of the five games in which the Cubs have been shut out this year, three have come in Samardzija starts. He had two more potential wins go up in smoke because of blown saves.
But Samardzija said the lack of wins hasn’t worn on him.
“I understand the situation,” he said. “I understand how things go. Baseball’s a funny sport. It’s just one of those things where you learn from it. It usually comes around in the end and it all evens out.
“You keep doing your work. And you see [teammates] working hard and doing their job, too. So you just keep going.”
Samardzija, who threw two simulated innings in the bullpen during the rain delay, has a 3.19 ERA during the 14-start winless streak.
“My solace is in the fact that this guy is being the ultimate professional in attacking what he’s supposed to do,” Renteria said of watching Samardzija continuously come up empty. “He may not have a victory at the end of the day in the column, but he’s accumulating victories – many victories. In many different ways. And I think that goes a long way with his teammates.
“His teammates are just as frustrated with themselves for not being able to do things for him. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and they know, and sometimes they try to put more pressure on [themselves] the more it goes on and the more people talk about it.
“We’ve just got to keep going. Stay even-keeled and keep going.”
The Braves scored twice in the seventh off rookie Brian Schlitter, who replaced Samardzija, getting a leadoff single, sacrifice bunt, another single and an RBI double by pinch hitter Ryan Doumit. With one out and men at second and third, Tyler Pastornicky drove home the second run with a suicide squeeze, on the pitch after a pitchout.
The Cubs had runners in scoring position twice in the first four innings, including Starlin Castro after a leadoff double in the second, but failed to score against Braves starter Ervin Santana (4-0), who went seven innings.
Castro reached third with one out before Welington Castillo hit a shallow pop to right and Mike Olt tapped to the pitcher.
Ryan Kalish led off the fourth with a single, and Anthony Rizzo followed with another single. But Rizzo got himself hung up too far off first when the ball was cut off for the first out.
“Still we had a runner on third base, and the infield’s back [with one out],” Renteria. “We just need to put the ball in play, and we didn’t.”
Castro hit another shallow pop to right, and after Luis Valbuena drew a walk, Castillo struck out to end that threat.