Cubs shut out; losing streak reaches eight

Cubs shut out; losing streak reaches eight

Cubs shut out; losing streak reaches eight
SAN DIEGO -- An eight-game losing streak will make you do crazy things. Just ask Jeff Samardzija, who showed his frustration Wednesday by breaking his bat over his knee.

The Cubs ended their West Coast swing with a 2-0 loss to the Padres, dropping their eighth in a row. The only plus side to their two California trips this season is that the weather was nice. The Cubs went 0-10 combined in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Samardzija (7-10) took the loss, and needed a new bat after striking out to end the seventh.

"It just felt good to snap it like a toothpick," he said.

"Right now, when you start losing games and a lot of things aren't going your way, you're going to see some frustrations come out," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "That's part of the game. It's OK to see guys with emotion and fire. Those are guys you want around, too."

Samardzija did the same thing in Spring Training after he was eliminated in the bunting tournament.

"That was fun," said Padres catcher John Baker, who had a front row seat to the snap. "That's not an easy thing to do."

"That's not something you want to see," Sveum said. "He's a pretty strong guy. He could do it a lot easier than I could."

In his first full season in the rotation, Samardzija finds himself as the Cubs starter with the most seniority following the trades of Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm and an injury to Matt Garza. Coincidentally, the Cubs have not won since they dealt Dempster on July 31.

"I think our starting pitching has pitched really well and they've all filled in pretty admirably for the three guys we've lost," Sveum said. "The bottom line is we've just all of a sudden stopped hitting, and we're not scoring any runs to take leads. It's not that easy when you're not getting a lead and putting crooked numbers up early in the game."

Against the Padres, Samardzija gave up four hits and struck out six over seven innings, and the last inning was the most important.

Chase Headley doubled to open the Padres second and scored one out later on Will Venable's double down the right-field line, past a diving Anthony Rizzo. Samardzija then faced the minimum over the next four innings.

But the right-hander ended the Cubs seventh by striking out, and snapped his bat in frustration. Yonder Alonso singled to open the Padres seventh and reached third on Headley's single, which dropped in front of Alfonso Soriano in left. Mark Kotsay hit a grounder to Rizzo, who stepped on first, and then helped get Alonso in a rundown between third and home. Venable walked, but Samardzija regrouped and struck out Logan Forsythe.

"Any time you're a young guy and your manager lets you pitch around a hit and pitch around a walk, and you see those pitches up in the 100 count, those are times you want to prove to your manager you can pitch and have your stuff," Samardzija said. "I felt great there with my pitch count what it was. You take more pride when they leave you out there, and you want them to remember that you pitched well for the future."

It's all part of the learning process.

"In that situation, it was his game," Sveum said. "He had pitched a great game. You're hoping for a double play, and he has a chance for a win. We just couldn't get anything going."

Clayton Richard (9-11) struck out five and held the Cubs to five hits in his first complete game of the season. Chicago now has been outscored, 40-16, in the eight losses, and has hit just .169 during the stretch.

"The bottom line is we're not getting anything going with the bats," Sveum said.

With the youth movement in full swing, Sveum met with the players this week to remind them to have fun and that they're going to experience ups and downs. His message: "You have to go out and play like it's Little League."

That doesn't make the losses any easier to take.

"It's frustrating because our guy's on the mound, and he's pitching hard," Chicago's Darwin Barney said. "He put himself in a situation where we scratch off one run and we're looking all right. We scratch off two, and we're going to win. Unfortunately we didn't do that. It's got to be frustrating for him. It's frustrating for us."

Thursday will be the Wrigley Field debut for top prospects Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Brooks Raley. The final games aren't just about development.

"Obviously, we're trying to win every game we play," Samardzija said. "We have some good teams we're playing -- we have a four-game set here with Cincinnati. A lot of guys will be cutting their teeth against some good teams. ... We know it won't be easy, but we're not going to make excuses either. We'll figure out how to win ballgames."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.