Pittsburgh, PA – Jeff Samardzija fired eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball Monday as the Chicago Cubs blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-0, in the opener of a three-game set at PNC Park.
Samardzija (7-8) struck out five and walked just one, with the only hit coming on an infield single in the fourth inning from Andrew McCutchen.
"He was pretty impressive," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum of Samardzija. "No doubt the best stuff he had."
Carlos Marmol worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his 12th save of the season.
The Cubs, who were outscored 23-1 during a three-game sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend, managed just four hits as a team but got a pair of RBI doubles from Alfonso Soriano to earn the victory.
Erik Bedard (5-11) was equally impressive in defeat, giving up just one run on two hits and two walks while tying a season high with 11 strikeouts, but with just two hits, the Pirates saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
"We've been scoring runs and for you to throw up a goose egg on the board and not being able to help your starting pitcher out, you hate it," admitted McCutchen.
Bedard walked Starlin Castro to start the fourth, and after Anthony Rizzo fanned, Soriano registered the first hit of the game with a double into right- center field to plate Castro from first and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Soriano's run-scoring double broke a streak of 28 scoreless innings for the Cubs, who were shut out in back-to-back games by the Cardinals.
Samardzija issued a first-inning walk, but held the Pirates hitless otherwise until McCutchen legged out an infield single with one out in the fourth.
McCutchen was quickly wiped off the basepaths when he was caught stealing second and Samardzija got back to business by retiring the final 13 Pirates he faced in order.
Chicago added an insurance run in the ninth in much the same fashion as they did in the fourth. Castro singled to start the frame and Soriano followed two batters later with a double into nearly the same spot in right-center field to provide the Cubs with a 2-0 lead.
Marmol then issued a leadoff single to Josh Harrison in the ninth, but fanned Drew Sutton and Alex Presley before inducing a groundout from Neil Walker to end the game.
The Cubs also endured a 28-inning scoreless drought from May 3-6, 2006...With a walk in the first inning, McCutchen has now reached base safely in 35 straight games against the Cubs...Soriano's RBI double in the ninth was the first run given up by the Pirates bullpen in their last five games.