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June 13, 2014

Cubs' offense no help for Samardzija

PITTSBURGH — Jeff Samardzija has some advice his pitching brethren when it comes to facing streaking Andrew McCutchen.

Don’t.

The way the Chicago Cubs’ ace looks at it, trying to get the Pittsburgh Pirates’ star out at the moment only opens yourself up for disaster.

“The next team that comes in here is probably better off pitching around him and letting him go to first base,” Samardzija said.

Samardzija tried — and failed — to deal with the scorching McCutchen in Pittsburgh’s 4-0 win on Thursday night. The reigning National League MVP doubled twice and drove in two runs as the Pirates cruised.

McCutchen broke it open with a two-run double in the fifth off Samardzija (2-6) and is batting .428 (18 of 42) with 15 extra-base hits in June.

Russell Martin also doubled twice for the Pirates, and rookie Gregory Polanco got a hit in the third straight game since his call-up. The Pirates had seven doubles in all, their highest total since a win over Houston in July 2010. Former Clinton LumberKing Edinson Volquez (4-5) pitched seven effective innings to win for the third time in his past five starts.

Luis Valbuena had two doubles for the Cubs, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position to fall for the fourth time in five games. The Cubs have scored two runs or fewer in nine of Samardzija’s 14 starts.

Chicago’s troubles weren’t just on offense on a night the worst road team in baseball fell to 0-9-3 in series played away from Wrigley Field this year. Samardzija struggled against a team that seems to be rounding into form behind its star center fielder.

“I felt I had good command and they didn’t let me get away with any mistakes,” said Samardzija, who gave up four runs on nine hits in six-plus innings, walking two and striking out seven. “I put a couple of cutters out over the plate to McCutchen and he made me pay.”

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