Jeff Samardzija finally snapped his lengthy winless streak his last time out. He'll try to record his first victory against the Milwaukee Brewers as a starter Sunday when the Chicago Cubs look for a fourth win in five meetings with their NL Central rivals.
Despite being baseball's ERA leader, Samardzija (1-4, 1.68 ERA) was without a win until his 11th start Monday. He struck out a season-high 10 and allowed three earned runs over seven innings of an 8-4 victory at San Francisco.The eight runs of support matched Samardzija's total from his previous five outings as he snapped a 16-start winless streak dating to Aug. 30."People try to downplay the record thing, but as a starting pitcher, I think it's important," Samardzija, who didn't issue a walk for the second time this season, told the team's official website. "I care, I want to keep working hard and come out every day and try to get a win. That's all you can do."Though he's beaten the Brewers twice in relief, Samardzija is 0-4 with a 3.14 ERA in seven starts. He was charged with two earned runs in five innings of a 4-3 home loss May 16.Run support has also been an issue for Samardzija against the Brewers, as he's been handed an average of 2.93 runs in those seven starts.But if Saturday's 8-0 victory for the Cubs (20-33) was any indication, the offense might be able to back Samardzija more than adequately. After getting his first day off in Friday's 11-5 loss, Anthony Rizzo homered twice to help Chicago snap a three-game slide."It was nice just to be able to watch the game yesterday ... slow life down a little bit while I'm on the bench," Rizzo said.The Brewers (33-23) had tied a club record with double-digit hits in nine straight, including 16 on Friday, before tallying four. Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun had their respective hitting streaks of 10 and six games snapped, though Braun is 7 for 16 with two homers off Samardzija.As in Samardzija's previous start against Milwaukee, he'll be opposed by Kyle Lohse (6-1, 2.92), who went seven innings and gave up three runs on homers from Darwin Barney and Junior Lake in that victory. He's coming off a mediocre performance, yielding season highs of four runs and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 7-6 loss to Baltimore on Monday.However, he was still in line for a victory until a blown save cost Lohse a win for the fourth time in his last six starts.Lohse is 6-6 with a 5.08 ERA in 21 starts against Chicago, though he's posted four of those victories in the last seven.Rizzo is 9 for 19 against him while Lake is 5 for 11 with two home runs.Milwaukee's Khris Davis is 15 for 34 with eight RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.A win for the Cubs would mark their second straight series victory over the Brewers after taking two of three in Chicago from May 16-18. They had won just one of their previous 12 series with Milwaukee.
Opposing hitters have a .143 batting average against Jeff Samardzija's splitter this season, which is 75 points below the league average against the pitch. In 34 plate appearances that have ended against a splitter this year, the Brewers have a team batting average of .226, which is tenth best in MLB.