Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija pitched his way to a complete game victory with the support of five Cubs home runs to take game one of the four game series.
The Cubs ace was searching for his first win in a month and coming off two poor outings allowing thirteen earned runs combined, but had all the signs of a number-one pitcher Monday night. Samardzija threw a complete game on 105 pitches, allowing only six hits and one earned run. He also tallied five strikeouts while avoiding to walk a single batter for the third time this season.Samardzija had the command of his fastball and split-finger, allowing him change speeds effectively and hit his corners which can be seen through his called strikes to swinging strikes ratio of 24/6. With his second complete game of the season and third of his career, Samardzija improves to 7-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 2013.
The only thing that drew fans attention off of Samardzija’s gem of a game were the balls flying into the infamous Wrigley Field bleachers throughout the game. There were a total of six homeruns hit in Monday’s game and in a change of events for the Bleacher Bums, five were from the home team.
Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz and third baseman Donnie Murphy each had two homeruns, while the two starting catchers, Dioner Navarro and Wilson Ramos, each deposited bleacher shots of their own.
The Cubs were able to jump on Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman (14-7, 3.37 ERA) early with a three-run home run by Nate Schierholtz in the bottom of the first inning scoring Junior Lake and Dioner Navarro. Nate Schierholtz would strike again in the fourth roping an RBI two-out double scoring Darwin Barney from first base and increasing the Cubs lead 4-0.
Chicago would add always needed insurance throughout the evening courtesy of homeruns by Donnie Murphy, solo homer in the fourth, and a three-run homer by Dioner Navarro that scored Junior Lake and Darwin Barney in the fifth. Following Jeff Samardzija’s only earned run of the game, a solo homerun to Wilson Ramos in the seventh, Nate Schierholtz belted his second home run of the night, scoring Dioner Navarro, while collecting his sixth RBI. Schierholtz tied himself with Anthony Rizzo for the team lead in homeruns(18) and moved behind Rizzo in RBIs with 58.Donnie Murphy would then send his second solo homerun into the Chicago Night to begin the eighth inning ending an impressive offensive outburst for the Chicago Cubs that had been long over due. *12 runs total in their previous eight home games. Junior Lake and Darwin Barney each contributed hits of their own, Lake with a double and single.
The Washington Nationals offense was however smothered and unable to muster any kind of run production against the dominant performance of Jeff Samardzija, only advancing a runner to second base once. 2012 rookie of the year Bryce Harper led the team with two hits, with Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman, and Denard Span collecting the other knocks.
Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman picked up the loss and was replaced after five innings allowing seven hits, eight earned runs, walking two, and striking out five. Washington relievers Fernando Abad and Ian Krol were credited with the final three Chicago runs. The Nationals fall to 60-64 on the season and sixteen back of Atlanta in the NL East, while Chicago improves to 54-70 and shifts to fourth place in the NL Central.
Washington comes back on Tuesday with former All-Star RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79 ERA) in the second game of the series, while the Cubs will throw LHP Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06 ERA). The game will begin at 7:05 P.M. CT at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill.