Mistakes cost Samardzija in loss to Nats

WASHINGTON -- Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija couldn’t quite figure it all out Friday. He threw well at times, had a good fastball and tied up some hitters in the potent Washington Nationals lineup.

But the final results were far from satisfying. Samardzija made an error that proved costly and gave up a two-run homer plus a pair of two-run doubles. Despite throwing effectively in stretches, the right-hander gave up seven runs in five innings and took the loss in Washington’s 7-3 victory over Cubs.

Samardzija (1-5) struck out five in his five-inning outing and threw 50 strikes on 73 pitches. But he gave up too many big hits and lost his fifth straight decision. His last victory came on Opening Day, and this was his seventh straight start without a win.

“I thought I had good stuff today,” he said afterwards. “The fastball location was good. That’s the frustrating part of it, when you’ve got your pitches and feel good and get that outcome.”

He retired the first four batters with no trouble before running into problems in the second. Ian Desmond reached on an infield single, and Danny Espinosa topped one back towards the mound. Samardzija pounced on it, but dropped the ball and never got control, and the Washington second baseman reached.

Samardzija later gave up a two-run double to Kurt Suzuki. The error meant both runs were unearned and proved both costly and frustrating.

“Originally I just wanted to go two with it and turn the double play, and then once I kicked it the first time, it turned into one of those keep reaching it for and trying to hurry and you got to calm down and just bare-hand it and throw it to first,” Samardzija said. “That was my bad.”

He then retired four in a row before Adam LaRoche singled to start the fourth, and Desmond followed with a two-run homer for a 4-2 lead Desmond added an RBI double in the fifth, and Espinosa followed with a two-run double to make it 7-2.

“It was kind of a strange outing for him,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “But like I said, we've got to field a ground ball back to us. We seem to make a mistake and we can't make a pitch after that.”