PITTSBURGH — Chicago Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija was seeking his third victory tonight, facing Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano at PNC Park.
Samardzija (2-5) pitched eight shutout innings to win his first game here this season on opening day, then didn’t win another start until beating Colorado in his last outing.
He threw another gem on Wednesday, but another strong outing by a Cubs starter was wasted in a 1-0 loss to the Pirates.
Liriano held the Cubs to two hits over seven innings, leaving with a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the third with the top of the order up, but could not get a run home. They had a runner on second with two outs in the eighth, but reliever Tony Watson struck out Anthony Rizzo to escape the inning.
Mark Melancon came on to pitch the ninth, and the Cubs had two on with one out after Welington Castillo’s single. But Ryan Sweeney and Darwin Barney both hit soft liners to second to end it.
More than half of the Cubs’ losses (16 of 26) have been by two runs or less, which has given the team confidence they can play with anyone. The problem is they usually wind up beating themselves.
“Early on we made some dumb mistakes that cost us big time,” Rizzo said. “We’ve been in close games all year. Now it’s about scratching runs across and keeping the lead.”
The Cubs bullpen has 10 blown saves, including Tuesday’s