Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Cubs 1


ATLANTA -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

How it happened: Jeff Samardzija was sailing along to the tune of 13 strikeouts, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning. A walk and hit batter helped set the table for a bases-loaded single by Ramiro Pena to break a 1-1 tie. The Cubs offense did little after a first-inning leadoff double by David DeJesus. He scored on an Anthony Rizzo ground out, but the Cubs managed just four more hits the rest of the way. Dan Uggla added an eighth-inning home run off of Hisanori Takahashi.

Samardzija’s day: The Cubs starter was on fire with his fastball and splitter that simply fooled many Braves’ hitters. After a leadoff hit by B.J. Upton, Samardzija struck out the next six batters as he whiffed at least one in every inning. But he struggled in the fifth and sixth and after a controversial hit-by-pitch of Chris Johnson (Samardzija didn’t think the ball hit him) Samardzija gave up the two-run single to Pena. His day was done after 105 pitches. He became just the fourth pitcher in the last 20 years to strike out 13 or more batters in less than six innings and the last Cub to strike out at least 13 since Mark Prior in 2004.

What it means: A potentially solid start to the season ends with a 2-4 week. The one day they actually hit the ball, Saturday, they still lost. On Sunday, Samardzija was very good but Tim Hudson outdueled him even if he didn’t match his strikeout total. The Cubs had some timely hitting this week and some timely pitching, but rarely did they have both in the same game.

What’s next: The Cubs will land in Chicago Sunday night in advance of their home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on Monday. Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60) pitches for the Cubs against Brewers' righty Marco Estrada (0-0, 7.20).