4/19 Marlins 5, Cubs 3
The Cubs began their first road trip with a confidence-boosting win over the defending World Series champions, and ended it Thursday with a sputtering offense. Greg Dobbs hit a two-run double to back Ricky Nolasco and lift the Marlins to victory and a sweep of the Cubs. They went 1-5 on this trip. Jeff Samardzija (2-1) took the loss in the shortest outing by a Cubs starter this season, lasting 3 2/3 innings. He deflected Logan Morrison’s liner off the meaty portion of his right hand in the fourth but stayed in to strike out Giancarlo Stanton and was then pulled.
“I should’ve caught it,” Samardzija said. “That was the least of my worries.”
The problem was a lack of first-pitch strikes. In Samardzija’s first start of the year against the Nationals, he threw first-pitch strikes to all but five of the 31 batters he faced. On Thursday, he did so for 12 of the 21 batters faced.
“I’m not 100 percent disappointed,” Samardzija said of his outing. “There are just things you have to work on.”
* The Cubs rank last in the Major Leagues in home runs and are 28th in the Majors in slugging percentage. Since their April 13 win over the Cardinals, they’ve been outscored, 34-10. They’re not panicking; just need some consistency in all facets of the game.
“It’s tough,” David DeJesus said of the five-game skid and overall 3-10 record. “We come to the field to win the games. It’s not like we’re coming to hang out and have fun. We just have to get better as a team. We have to focus and take every at-bat the way professionals do. I feel that will lead to better innings and ‘W’s in the win column.”
* The Cubs finally got the big inning they’ve been looking for in the second, sparked by Darwin Barney’s three-run triple. But in the three-game series at Marlins Park, the Cubs were 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 baserunners.
* Geovany Soto posted his first multi-hit game of the season. He led NL catchers in 2011 with 21.
* Starlin Castro extended his hitting streka to seven games, and is .444 in that stretch. He’s reached base safely in 52 of his last 53 games since Aug. 15, 2011.
* Ian Stewart had two hits to end an 0-for-13 skid.
* On Friday, the Cubs open a three-game series and six-game homestand against the Reds. Chris Volstad will face Homer Bailey on Friday.
– Carrie Muskat