After several rain delays that led to just a handful of fans staying to see the end of the contest, the Chicago Cubs fell to the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2, on Tuesday night, meaning, yet again, right-hander Jeff Samardzija failed to earn his first win of the campaign, despite another solid performance.
Samardzija (0-3) pitched into the sixth, when a rain delay ended his night with men on the corners and two outs, following an RBI signal by Chris Heisey that plated Zack Cozart. Cozart tripled on a ball hit to right that was misplaced by outfielder Ryan Kalish, turning what at first appeared to be a single into the three-bagger it was.
In 5 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander allowed three earned runs on eight hits, while walking four and striking out four. He struggled to find consistency all evening long, but gutted his way through another solid outing.
Cincinnati (12-14) opened the scoring on a Brandon Phillips sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, but Chicago quickly answered back when shortstop Starlin Castro singled to center, driving in two runs in the top of the third against Reds starter Alfredo Simon.
The Reds tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, when leadoff man Billy Hamilton hit his first home run of the season off Samardzija, one of three hits he tallied on the night against Cubs pitching.
Simon tossed six innings of two-run ball himself, allowing just five hits while striking out five. A trio of Cincinnati relievers combined to finish things off, killing any hopes of a late Chicago rally.
Chicago (8-17) was just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base during the series opener. Only Emilio Bonifacio and Kalish tallied more than one base hit, with Castro accounting for both of the club’s RBI.
NOTE: Cubs skipper Ricky Renteria was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the sixth, marking his second ejection of the season – which leads all big league managers.