CHICAGO – The Cubs’ attempt at a late rally fell short Saturday in a 4-3 defeat as their series with the Boston Red Sox is even at a game each.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Jeff Samardzija was better after a brutal outing last weekend, but didn’t get enough help from the offense. Samardzija gave up three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings, but was far from efficient, walking three and throwing 108 pitches. The Red Sox’s Jon Lester was solid, but ran out of gas in the seventh, giving up a three-run home run to Luis Valbuena before he was pulled.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cubs have struggled against left-handed pitching all year but were slightly better Saturday. They entered with a .222 batting average against lefties, third lowest in the National League. Against Lester, they had seven hits and the three runs from Valbuena’s home run. The Cubs will get another crack at it Sunday when they face Red Sox lefty Franklin Morales, who is making his first big-league start since 2009 when he was with the Colorado Rockies.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Not only did Samardzija remain winless in June, he also saw his four-game hitting streak come to an end. He went 0-for-1, grounding out to second base in the third inning. Samardzija had also driven in a run in three of his last four starts with an at-bat. Carlos Zambrano had a four-game hitting streak last season.
OFF BEAT: Cubs fans reacted swiftly and harshly when Alfonso Soriano failed to run out a line drive in the sixth inning. With two runners on base, Soriano crushed a ball at Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The liner was dropped, though, as Soriano stood at the plate. Middlebrooks had plenty of time to retrieve it and make the easy throw to first base. Fans booed loudly first when the play happened and again when Soriano took his spot in left field. When Soriano warmed up and threw the ball into the bleachers, fans yelled to throw it back.
UP NEXT: The Cubs will send left-hander Paul Maholm (4-5, 4.91 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale. He will be opposed by Red Sox left-hander Franklin Morales (0-1, 3.04) in the 7 p.m. CST start from Wrigley Field. The game will be carried nationally on ESPN.