Samardzija once again sees no support in 6-1 Cubs’ loss
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Sports Reporter June 23, 2014 10:36PM
Updated: June 23, 2014 11:06PM
A pitching duel turned into a beat-down of Cubs closer Hector Rondon Monday night at Wrigley Field as the Cincinnati Reds scored five in the ninth to beat the Cubs 6-1 in the opener of a three-game series.
Rondon retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth, but a bloop single by pinch-hitter Chris Heisey opened the door that Devin Mesoraco eventually slammed on the Cubs with a grand slam.
After Heisey reached, he stole second, and Billy Hamilton then slapped a single off the glove of diving shortstop Starlin Castro for a run-scoring hit that gave the Reds a lead.
A single by Todd Frazier, followed by Joey Votto’s walk set the stage for Mesoraco – who has homered in four consecutive games.
The loss was the Cubs’ third consecutive loss.
Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija didn’t get a decision for the eighth time in 16 starts, again because of lack of run support.
He remains the only pitcher in the majors to make at least 15 starts with as few as two wins despite an ERA of less than 3.00.
But the Cubs’ lame-duck ace – who could be down to a half-dozen or fewer starts left before a trade — pitched out of enough trouble early to get through six innings, allowing just one run, to hand off a 1-1 game to the bullpen.
Samardzija gave up a double by speedy Hamilton off the glove of diving second baseman Darwin Barney leading off the game. And when Frazier followed with a triple, it was quickly 1-0.
But Samardzija, who lowered his top-10 ERA to 2.53 Monday, left Frazier stranded at third, pitched out of another jam in the third, then settled down to retire nine of the final 10 he faced.
Samardzija’s high-emotion moment of the game – maybe second only to stranding Frazier – was when he popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt after Barney had led off the third with a double.
He snapped the bat over his knee – and didn’t give up a hit the rest of his outing.
Samardzija’s scheduled to start again Saturday against Washington in his final home start before the 10 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline – which could make it his final home start.
The Cubs trailed until the sixth, when Anthony Rizzo drove an opposite-field, one-out homer to left off Reds starter Alfredo Simon, who pitched seven strong innings.