Dodgers Keep Winning, Shutout Cubs

By Fred Mitchell, Chicago Tribune reporterAugust 4, 2013

Jeff Samardzija remains a key to the Cubs’ future, according to general manager Jed Hoyer.

“He’s a guy we’d love to try to build around,” Hoyer said Saturday before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss against the Dodgers. “We love his makeup, his competitiveness, his swagger, his stuff. We obviously have had some (contract extension) discussions with him. We’ll continue in the offseason. Our hope is certainly to keep him here and he knows that.”

In the interim, Samardzija is trying to make the most of a challenging situation as the team has been providing him marginal run support. Samardzija struggled to keep his team in the game Saturday, giving up three runs while walking five and allowing seven hits over six innings.

“If I could take anything back it would be those two leadoff walks to (Skip) Schumaker (in the fourth and sixth innings),” said Samardzija, who threw 112 pitches and struck out nine. “It doesn’t help to throw 25 pitches an inning and make your defense stand out there on the field. We’ve been getting a lot of hits (eight Saturday), it’s just about getting those guys across (the plate).”

The Dodgers won their franchise-best 13th consecutive road game before a crowd of 40,490 at Wrigley Field. The National League record for consecutive road victories is 17, set by the 1916 New York Giants.

“That’s what happens when you’re hot and have the kind of pitching they have, and bullpen,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “And obviously two (hitters Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez) who are super hot over the last month. And you mix in the other pieces and you have a pretty nice combination.”

The Cubs stranded seven baserunners and grounded into four double plays.

“It’s a broken record, it just keeps continuing,” Sveum said. “We just can’t seem to break a game open or get back in the game when we have chances to do it.”

Dodgers starter Chris Capuano (4-6) earned the victory after checking the Cubs on six hits over 61/3 innings while striking out five.

Samardzija (6-10), who took the loss, insisted he is focusing on pitching and not a new contract.

“I have been pretty good at blanking it out, to tell you the truth,” he said. “You try to clear your mind and the only thing you want in your head is the lineup you’re facing and your game plan against them. It’s not the easiest thing in the world. To say (a contract) doesn’t weigh on you would be a lie.”

Samardzija is arbitration-eligible the next two seasons before he can become a free agent. If he and the club can’t agree on an extension, there’s a possibility the Cubs could attempt to trade him over the winter.

After giving up a run in the third, Samardzija escaped a major jam in the fourth when he struck out Carl Crawford and Puig to retire the side with the bases loaded. But the Dodgers got to him in the sixth when Crawford drove in a pair of runs with a two-out soft liner to right.

The Cubs chased Capuano in the seventh but failed to score. Welington Castillo led off with a double before Starlin Castro hit a low liner to right-center. Puig made a sensational diving catch to rob Castro of extra bases.

Nate Schierholtz followed with a single to left, but Castillo could only advance to third. Brandon League relieved Capuano and got Cody Ransom to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

The Cubs loaded the bases again in the eighth, but Castillo struck out on a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Paco Rodriguez.

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