7/29 Brewers 5, Cubs 0
The Brewers scored five runs in the ninth to take the first game in this four-game, three-day series. What’s lost was a solid outing by Jeff Samardzija, who gave up three hits over seven shutout innings, striking out seven. This marks the third straight game a Cubs starter has gone seven innings and not given up an earned run since Aug. 3-5, 1971, when Bill Hands, Milt Pappas and Juan Pizarro did so.
The Cubs have said from the start of the season that the kid gloves are off Samardzija, who has 144 innings. He was shut down after throwing 174 2/3 innings last year. His goal this year is 200 innings and to make every start.
“Not that I’m a big goals guy,” he said, “but going into Spring Training that was No. 1 on my list, to pitch every fifth day and be healthy and even when you’re not healthy [to still] pitch, and be a guy on this team that hey, every fifth day, that name is in the lineup and he’s pitching, and we have a chance to win that day. It’s been my No. 1 goal from the start of the season was to pitch and be strong every game. I like where I’m at right now.”
He also likes where the team is at.
“We’re making a good late run and I feel good physically and my arm feels good, and I really feel like I’m improving as a pitcher, too, which feels really good to go out there and make some pitches in the game and know you made the right choice and get the right result,” he said.
The Cubs have stayed competitive despite losing two-fifths of their rotation in trades. How does Samardzija view the way Dale Sveum has handled things?
“‘Sveumer’ is a consistent dude,” Samardzija said. “Everytime he comes to the park, he has one goal in mind and that’s fielding a lineup that has a chance to win the game. He does a great job instilling that confidence in every player that that’s our goal. On top of that, with this roster we have, there’s a lot of scrappy guys who can play the game. With those two things combined, I feel every day we show up and we’re ready to win a ballgame in any form necessary.
“We’ve had a few games that have taken a different route, where the pitching’s been great, or the hitting’s been great,” he said. “We know we’re going to be in every game, they’re going to be tight. We need to figure out a way to pull them out. I really like the way we’ve played these teams in the top of the division, to tell you the truth. I know San Fran isn’t up there, but they’re the defending world champs, Arizona is at the top of their division, and Colorado has one of the most potent offenses in the league. We come to play against these guys.
“That’s exciting and it says a lot about this team and this roster from top to bottom,” he said. “These guys come to work every day and that’s all you can do. You come to play every day and everyone knows how good it feels to win as opposed to losing. That’s the first thing that’s on everyone’s mind is do what it takes to win this day.”
* EXTRA BASES: Junior Lake snapped an 0-for-14 stretch with a single in the third. He has five multi-hit games in his first 11 big league games. … The Cubs were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and are 9-for-84 (.107) with RISP since the All-Star break. … Chicago is 15-29 vs. the NL Central.
— Carrie Muskat