CINCINNATI — Three rain delays Tuesday night summed up the misery Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija has endured in April.
A perceived tight strike zone by plate umpire Alan Porter didn’t help matters, although Samardzija suffered more anguish in the most bizarre ways.
And with two outs in the sixth, right fielder Ryan Kalish took a poor angle on a ball hit by .148 hitter Zack Cozart that turned a single into a triple.
Cozart went on to score the winning run on a single by pinch hitter Chris Heisey to cap Samardzija’s rough night in a 3-2 loss.
Porter ejected Cubs manager Rick Renteria in the bottom of the sixth for arguing balls and strikes during an at-bat by Joey Votto.
Heisey’s single capped the latest in a series of frustrations for Samardzija, who has taken the high road when asked about the lack of support that has deprived him of a victory through six starts.
“I played with fire too much.” Samardzija said.
Entering Tuesday’s game, Samardzija was the first pitcher in 100-plus years to start a season with five consecutive games of seven or more innings pitched while giving up two or fewer runs without recording at least one victory, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
At this rate, the only development that eventually might satisfy the Cubs (8-17) and Samardzija is a trade to a contender that would bring the Cubs several prospects.
Although the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is three months away, several scouts witnessed Samardzija walk a season-high four batters.
Three of those were issued to Votto, including one in the first on a low, inside pitch on a 3-2 count that prompted Samardzija to put his hands on his hips.
Hamilton’s homer was extremely frustrating because Samardzija, who had received only nine runs of support in his first five starts, had been staked to a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a two-run single by Starlin Castro.
Kalish sprinted toward the gap in right-center but failed to cut off the ball, enabling Cozart to reach third.
The start of the game was delayed by 19 minutes because of rain that fell shortly after the Cubs completed batting practice, and the second delay lasted 15 minutes after Emilio Bonifacio made a running catch on the warning track in center field to rob pitcher Alfredo Simon of a tying extra-base hit in the fourth.
The game was delayed for 1 hour, 11 minutes with two out in the bottom of the sixth, shortly after Samardzija was pulled following an infield hit by Hamilton.