CHICAGO -- After popping up a sacrifice bunt attempt that landed in the glove of Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija snapped his bat over his leg before retreating to the dugout Monday night.
Samardzija's frustration was understandable, given his failure to help his cause and the lack of offensive support he has received throughout most of the season.
It took a home run by Anthony Rizzo in the bottom of the sixth inning to alleviate some of the angst built up by the lack of execution, but the Reds scored five runs off Hector Rondon in the ninth, highlighted by Devin Mesoraco's grand slam, to beat the Cubs 6-1.
Samardzija was saddled with his eighth no-decision thanks in part to a high pitch count.
Thus, scouts from teams that included the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Angels were left to assess the value of Samardzija after he lowered his ERA to 2.53 by surviving a shaky first inning and limiting the Reds to four hits.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching, interested teams -- most noticeably the Blue Jays -- have sent different scouts to examine Samardzija as closely as possible.
From a statistical standpoint, he hasn't been as dominant as he was in April (1.98 ERA) or May (1.32). But some of his work Monday night was just as impressive, simply from the standpoint that he minimized damage despite occasional control issues.
At the outset, it looked like Samardzija was destined for his third loss in as many starts this season against the Reds. Speedy Billy Hamilton started the game by hitting a hard grounder under the outstretched glove of second baseman Darwin Barney and hustled into second base for a double that extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Todd Frazier followed with an RBI triple, and Samardzija compounded his troubles by hitting Devon Mesoraco with a pitch. But he rebounded to strike out Jay Bruce and induced Ryan Ludwick to ground into a fielder's choice.
The Reds put runners at second and third with two out in the third, but Samardzija induced Ludwick to fly to center.
Samardzija didn't allow a hit after Bruce doubled in the third and retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
This marked the eighth time the Cubs provided Samardzija with one run of support or less. Samardzija's bat-snapping incident occurred after Barney hit a double that vanished into the ivy in left field.
Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano flied out in succession to end the rally.
The fourth was even more maddening for the Cubs, as Rizzo opened the inning with a single and advanced to third on a double by Starlin Castro. But Luis Valbuena's fly to right wasn't hit deep enough for Rizzo to advance. Welington Castillo, making his first start since returning from the 15-day disabled list, grounded to pitcher Alfredo Simon, and Ryan Sweeney flied to left.
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