Samardzija eyes first win of year in Cincinnati
(SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Samardzija has one of the better earned run averages in the National League, but does not have a win to show for it.
The right-hander will try to move past his tough luck on Monday night as the Chicago Cubs play the opener of a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
Samardzija has pitched to a 1.53 ERA through five starts this season, not allowing more than two earned runs in any of those outings, but sits at 0-2 and is actually winless in his last 11 starts dating back to last season.
He concluded the 2013 campaign 0-2 in his last six outings following a victory on Aug. 24.
Samardzija was in line to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, holding them to two runs on seven hits and a pair of walks over 7 1/3 innings, but the bullpen allowed five runs in the ninth frame. That left Samardzija with a no- decision in the 7-5 setback.
"I'm going out and doing my job," Samardzija told his club's website. "As a starting pitcher, you know when you're pitching every fifth day and you come out -- you have to have a short memory as a pitcher. You start carrying over start to start, that's when it starts to snowball on you. You keep doing your work and competing for the team and hope for the best."
The 29-year-old went 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA in five starts versus the Reds last season, then dropped a 4-1 decision to them at home on April 18. Samardzija was charged with three runs (one earned) over seven frames with seven strikeouts.
Alfredo Simon opposed Samardzija on that day and will do so again tonight. That outing was the righty's first career start against the Cubs following 10 relief appearances and he allowed just one unearned run over six frames. That moved Simon to 2-0 with a save and 2.16 ERA versus Chicago.
The 32-year-old was plugged into Cincinnati's rotation at the start of the season due to Mat Latos' injury and has responded with a 3-1 record through four starts with a 1.30 ERA that is fourth best in the NL.
Simon won his second straight start on Wednesday as he topped Pittsburgh 5-2 despite some early trouble. He issued three of his season-high five walks in the first inning to force in a run, but was solid the rest of the way in allowing just one more run over 6 2/3 total innings of work.
"I feel comfortable right now," Simon said. "I'm getting to know the hitters (in the National League)."
The Reds probably don't feel too comfortable in close games following Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves, who swept the three-game series. The loss dropped Cincinnati to 3-9 in one-run games this season and wasted another gem by Johnny Cueto.
Cueto, who was coming off back-to-back complete-game victories, struck out 11 over eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball, moving his ERA to 1.15 that sits as the second best in the NL.
However, the offense struggled and the Braves won it on Freddie Freeman's RBI single in the 10th off J.J. Hoover.
Cincinnati had won three in a row before getting swept and went 5-5 on a 10- game road trip.
"It's still early," said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. "I'm not really worried about anything. That's just how baseball goes. We just didn't take advantage of the situations. We still got a long season, man."
Chicago, meanwhile, snapped a four-game slide by salvaging the finale of a three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers, taking Sunday's contest 4-0.
Jason Hammel hurled five hitless innings before yielding a double in the sixth and then a walk before getting out of the jam.
Hammel, who scattered three hits and two walks over seven innings with seven strikeouts, admitted to getting confused on signs in the frame, taking him out of his no-hit groove.
"What happened in the sixth inning was I pretty much screwed myself going back and forth from signs. We were bouncing back and forth between innings, changing up signs, and I got caught up in the signs. I basically mixed myself up and kind of lost my rhythm," Hammel said.
Starlin Castro belted a pair of solo homers for the Cubs, his second multi- homer game of his career. The other also came this season.
The Reds won two of three over the hosting Cubs from April 18-20 and have been victorious in 31 of the last 41 encounters dating back to late in the 2011 season.
04/28 10:30:23 ET