PHOENIX -- With a lineup boasting eight right-handers Friday, the Cubs were strategically set up to face D-backs left-hander Joe Saunders.
But just minutes before first pitch during warmups, Saunders was scratched for what the team called an inability to get loose. In his place, the D-backs called upon onetime starter and current relief pitcher Josh Collmenter, a right-hander.
Unable to put together rallies with the righty-on-righty matchups and going 1-for-8 while plating no runs with runners in scoring position, the Cubs dropped the series opener to the D-backs, 6-1, at Chase Field.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he could've changed the lineup if he wanted to, but he opted to stand pat against Collmenter, whose tomahawk-like delivery is a unique arm angle for hitters.
"Just a few minutes before the lineups were exchanged," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said when asked when he found out about the switch. "I had time to change it. It was more of Collmenter, [whom] we had no prior history against, none of our hitters had faced him. He's so funky, he's a guy you need to face three, four or five times before you get a good reading on that arm slot."
Collmenter, who entered the game with right-handed hitters batting .212 against him and lefties hitting .346, ended up throwing four innings, surrendering just three hits and a run.
"He started to warm up and his shoulder was kind of stiff and just couldn't get it loose so we shut him down and went to Collmenter," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Saunders. "It happened right before, so we ran over and told the Cubs and that was that."
The Cubs did have their chances against the five D-backs relievers who combined to pitch the entire game, but as a team, they left 11 runners on base.
"Same old story," Sveum said. "We had our chances to get back in it and we couldn't get that big hit to do it. You can't get the bases loaded a couple times and get nothing out of it. Not going to win many ballgames."
Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija cruised through the first three innings, allowing just one hit, but ran into trouble after that. The righty gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks over five-plus innings.
"I felt pretty good," Samardzija said. "But those times with runners on base, you really need to bear down and make pitches. Those are make or break times. You get out of that and you give your offense back in the dugout."
In four June starts, Samardzija has yet to toss more than 5 1/3 innings and has an 8.53 ERA. Last season as a reliever, the 27-year-old threw 88 innings, and after Friday night, he's at 83 in 2012.
"That's something we have to monitor," Sveum said of Samardzija tiring deeper into games. "I even notice at the 80-pitch mark, the ball gets up, that's when the walks start coming in. It's definitely getting to be a pattern."
Geovany Soto drove in the club's only run of the night on a solo homer in the fourth for the game's first run after the Cubs left the bases loaded in the second inning. He also singled in the second inning and was the only Chicago player with multiple hits.
The catcher's long ball was his second since he was activated off the disabled list on Monday.
Holding a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Samardzija first got touched up when Jason Kubel hit a 3-0 fastball into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer.
"You're trying to get back into the count, but he put a good swing on the ball and hit it out," Samardzija said. "I was fine with that. You just have to go on from there and make good pitches and get the ball down in the zone."
Samardzija appeared to settle down after the Kubel home run, retiring the first two batters of the fifth on seven pitches. But after D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler collected the first hit of his career with two outs, the pitcher's night began to unravel.
Two more two-out hits plated Arizona's third run before Samardzija got out of the inning. The distress carried over to the next frame, as the Cubs starter walked the first two batters before serving up a two-run triple to Miguel Montero, ending his outing and leaving the D-backs comfortably ahead, 5-1.
"He hung a splitter to Montero that he was trying to bounce," Sveum said. "Montero got a big hit to break the game open."
Shawn Camp received the call from the bullpen and prevented any further damage before the D-backs later added another run in the seventh on a Justin Upton ground-rule double off of Jairo Asencio.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.