Brewers get to Samardzija in his shortest start
Cubs ace exits after allowing eight earned runs over three innings
MILWAUKEE -- Jeff Samardzija began Sunday leading the Major Leagues in ERA. That changed in one inning.
The Brewers scored five runs in the third, including three on Lyle Overbay's bases-clearing double, and Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in a 9-0 win Sunday over the Cubs and Samardzija, who lasted three innings in the shortest outing of his career.
"It was one of those days," Samardzija said. "They came out aggressive and were hitting the ball. Tip your hat to them; they're swinging it pretty good. I left some balls up in the zone, and they jumped on them."
Samardzija was coming off his first win of the season and making his 12th start. It was his worst. He served up eight runs on eight hits and two walks. He had not given up more than three earned runs in a game this season, and he had done that only twice. It was the first time he had been charged with that many runs since the Phillies scored nine in 3 1/3 innings on Aug. 8.
"Whatever he threw over the plate, they were on it," Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. "We all know what kind of stuff Samardzija has and how good a game he can pitch. His stuff was there today, and they were on it."
"I figured it'd be low-scoring on both ends," said Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke, whose starter, Kyle Lohse, went the distance, holding the Cubs to three hits and driving in two runs himself. "I knew Kyle had a good chance of keeping them down, and I didn't expect to get a lot of runs off Samardzija."
Who would? When Samardzija started the game, he had a 1.68 ERA, just percentage points ahead of the Reds' Johnny Cueto for the best mark in the Majors. He finished with a 2.54 ERA.
"I'm obviously upset with how it went today," Samardzija said. "It's just about going out and understanding that it's a season of 32 starts, and some are good, some are bad, and next time you want to go out and prevent the big number and keep your team in the game.
"That's the most frustrating part of it, is when they're hitting in the fourth and feel like it's a big dish they're in," he said. "If you have a rough day, you need to keep it to four, five, six runs, something manageable for the offense."
Samardzija wasn't the only one who made an early exit. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo was ejected for the first time in his career in the fourth after arguing a called third strike with home-plate umpire Jerry Meals.
"I didn't agree with the calls, obviously," Rizzo said. "I said my piece and definitely understand why I got ejected, and I'll just move on with it."
The Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the first on Braun's ninth homer, driving in Jean Segura, who singled to start the game. Then it got ugly for the Cubs, as Scooter Gennett doubled to lead off the second, dropping the ball in shallow left between shortstop Starlin Castro and Junior Lake. Samardzija struck out the next two batters, but Lohse helped himself with an RBI single.
Milwaukee loaded the bases in the third, and Khris Davis hit a liner to second baseman Darwin Barney, who dived and stopped the ball, stepped on second and threw to third for a double play. But a run scored to make it 4-0.
The Brewers then loaded the bases again as Gennett doubled and Mark Reynolds walked, and Overbay cleared them with a double to left for a 7-0 lead. Lohse followed with another RBI single. Samardzija got Segura to pop up and end the inning, and end his day after 65 pitches.
Samardzija has been able to post impressive numbers despite being the subject of non-stop trade rumors. He is aware. He ignores the chatter.
"There's a lot of talk going on," he said. "I'm not saying it gets to you; it's part of the job. Whatever's on the outside doesn't matter. You have a job to do every fifth day. You don't make any excuses. That's a solid hitting team, and when you throw it over the plate and you're behind in the count like I was, 1-0 a lot, they'll take advantage of it."
Braun said the Brewers did just that.
"He's one of the best pitchers in our game, and I think for all of us we embrace the challenge of facing a guy like that," Braun said. "He made a couple of mistakes, and we were able to take advantage of it, and we got lucky a couple of times. We hit a popup that fell in, a ground ball that fell in. You have to take advantage of mistakes against a good pitcher like that. When a team makes mistakes like that, you have to jump on it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.