Samardzija roughed up in starting debut
Righty gives up seven runs as Cubs fall four games back
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija's first Major League start was one he'd rather forget.
The rookie right-hander served up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings as the Philadelphia Phillies romped, 12-5, on Wednesday night over the Cubs to hand veteran Pedro Martinez the win in front of 41,133 fans at Wrigley Field.
"I had high expectations coming into the day," Samardzija said. "It's obviously not how you'd write it up."
Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez each hit three-run homers in an eight-run fourth to back Martinez (1-0), making his first start for the Phillies and first in the big leagues since a no-decision last Sept. 25 against the Cubs for the New York Mets. In that game, Chicago collected five runs on seven hits over six innings. Lou Piniella wasn't sure what to expect Wednesday from the three-time Cy Young winner.
"Pedro was a dominating front-line starting pitcher, a competitor, had great stuff and was a winner," Piniella said before the game.
On Wednesday, Martinez surprised the Cubs with his velocity. He gave up an RBI single to Jeff Baker in the second, driving in Kosuke Fukudome, who had doubled. The Cubs loaded the bases in the fifth and Milton Bradley added an RBI single and Jake Fox hit a sacrifice fly to center, which resulted in Shane Victorino being doused by a beer from a fan in the bleachers.
"That shouldn't happen," Piniella said. "It's not good sportsmanship and it's not good behavior. We apologize to Victorino and the Phillies for that."
Alfonso Soriano hopes the Phillies don't retaliate the next time he's at Citizens Bank Park.
"If I play in Philadelphia and some fan does that to me, I'm not going to be happy," Soriano said.
Martinez made the Phillies happy. He served up seven hits, walked one and struck out five.
"To me, Pedro was Pedro," Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said. "Maybe not [the same as] six, seven years ago, but he's going to give those guys a chance to win when he goes out there. He makes pitches, that's what he does."
And Samardzija is a work in progress. He had appeared in 16 games in relief this year and was making a spot start for injured Carlos Zambrano, one of two Cubs starting pitchers on the disabled list. The first five Phillies hits off Samardzija were all for extra bases, including an RBI double by Chase Utley and an RBI triple by Ryan Howard. Victorino smacked his ninth home run with one on in the third to go ahead, 4-1.
"I was pretty jacked going into that first inning," said Samardzija, who played in front of sellout crowds of 100,000-plus as a star wide receiver for Notre Dame. "I kind of expected [being excited], but after that first hit, I should've taken a deep breath right there. I was excited and we'll learn from it and go out the next time as a starter, knowing it's a marathon out there and you want to get deep in innings."
It got ugly in the fourth. Samardzija gave up three straight hits and a run scored on a throwing error by Fukudome. Martinez grounded out, and Samardzija was pulled. Rollins launched the first pitch from Sean Marshall into the left-field seats for his 15th homer and also served up Ibanez's blast, his 27th, and an RBI single to Pedro Feliz. The eight runs were a season high by an opponent, and the most since the Cubs served up 11 in the sixth on July 16, 2006, against the Mets.
|"I was pretty jacked going into that first inning. I kind of expected [being excited], but after that first hit, I should've taken a deep breath right there. I was excited and we'll learn from it and go out the next time as a starter, knowing it's a marathon out there and you want to get deep in innings."|
|-- Jeff Samardzija|
"Any time, if it's a guy's first start, it's going to be new to him," Hill said of Samardzija. "He's a high-energy guy and he came out a little amped up. I thought he got better when he got into the game a little bit. He's got a good arm and a good future.
"I don't think tonight is representative of what he's capable of doing," Hill said. "He's going to be fine."
Samardzija is one of eight rookie pitchers the Cubs have used this season, and combined, they're 12-8 in 77 games, including 18 starts.
"This is a tough lineup," Piniella said. "This is a world championship team you're talking about. It's not easy for a young man to go out there with this type of chore. It's good experience for him and hopefully he learns from it.
"Until we get healthy and we get these guys a little more rested, these things can happen," Piniella said. "We don't want them to happen."
Especially when the St. Louis Cardinals win. The Cubs now find themselves four games back in the National League Central.
"It's very tough, but we have to continue to play and try to play better," Soriano said. "I hope when those guys come back, they feel strong and we can get some more wins."
The Cubs can't use injuries as an excuse, but they've had too many guys sidelined this year.
"I don't think you worry about the guys who are out," Derrek Lee said. "You go out and take care of business. We've been injured all season. You have to deal with what you have."
Samardzija most likely will go back into the bullpen. Ted Lilly is expected to be activated from the disabled list Monday.
"There's so much you can take out of it," Samardzija said, looking for the silver lining. "[Starting] is what I enjoy doing -- I enjoy going out there and being able to work through the lineup.
"It's just one of those days," he said. "Sometimes you get kicked, and today we got kicked."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.