Baseball / Sports

Samardzija hit hard; Cubs shut out for 3rd time in 5 games

MILWAUKEE -- After experiencing his first terrible start of the season, Jeff Samardzija summed up his status as well as what the Cubs need to do to transform their subpar performance through the first third of the season.

"I'm upset with how it went," Samardzija said Sunday after getting tagged for a season-high eight runs in three innings of a 9-0 loss to the Brewers. "As a whole, you become a guy you want to be by turning the page, good or bad. And when you let things get to you, if you've been pitching well, then you get lax between starts. It doesn't go well, you need to change it.

"If you have a rough day, you need to keep it to a four-, five-, six-run (deficit), something manageable for your offense. So that's the frustrating part because you let it get away from you."

On a short-term basis, the Cubs (20-34) failed to break even on their concluded 10-game trip. Samardzija (1-5) struggled from the start and his ERA -- once the best in the National League -- swelled from 1.68 to 2.54.

But the Cubs mustered only three hits -- one by reliever Brian Schlitter -- as they were blanked for the third time in their last five games.

There was no spark in the lineup, aside from Anthony Rizzo's ejection by home plate umpire Jerry Meals after Rizzo argued a called third strike in the top of the fourth. Only one baserunner advanced past first base against Kyle Lohse (7-1), who was aided by the Cubs swinging early in counts to throw a 93-pitch complete game.

After providing a spark with a .337 batting average and 10 stolen bases during the first month, leadoff batter Emilio Bonifacio's average has dipped to .269, and he has stolen only one base since May 6. Bonifacio said his decline in steals is related directly to his lack of hitting.

A pop to shallow left hit by the Brewers' Scooter Gennett fell between left fielder Junior Lake and shortstop Starlin Castro and set up a run in the second.

Samardzija allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the first and an RBI single to Lohse during a five-run third in which he walked two and hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch. Samardzija accepted his share of blame while downplaying the notion that speculation about him getting traded had an effect on his performance.

"There's a lot of talk going on," he said. "It doesn't get to you. It's part of the job. What's on the outside doesn't matter. You've got a job to do. You assess it like that. You don't make an excuse for it. (The Brewers) are a solid hitting team.

"I'd like to think I'm a pretty focused guy, especially on the day I pitch. The future is uncertain for everybody. You don't know what's going to happen. All I can do is prove in good times and bad times I'm a pretty important guy to have around here."

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