The care and handling of an ace pitcher is a little different from the rest.
That's especially true if that ace has the stuff Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija possesses.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum wasn't in the dugout as Samardzija took a pitch count of 103 into the seventh inning of Saturday's 12-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He had been ejected by home-plate umpire Joe West for arguing a play at first base in the second inning.
Samardizja went to 115 pitches before being taken out, but he probably would have fared no worse than the bullpen.
James Russell gave up a bases-clearing double that allowed the Diamondbacks to rally for a 4-3 lead. Carlos Villanueva, who began the year as a starter, got the final out -- but that was the only batter he faced.
In the eighth, beleaguered Carlos Marmol gave up a grand slam to Paul Goldschmidt to make it 8-4 Arizona. In all, Cubs relievers gave up 9 runs in 22⁄3 innings.
"The bottom line is, you walk eight guys, you're not going to win too many games," Sveum said. "It basically came down to the walk. Obviously, they had a couple big hits to bust the game open, but the walks were the difference in the game."
Samardzija was coming off a complete-game victory Monday over the White Sox, against whom he threw 108 pitches. Sveum did give some insight before the game on why he might let Samardzija go a little deeper.
"The one thing when you're dealing with power guys like Samardzija, and to take nothing away from anybody's bullpen for that matter, when you've got a guy left in the seventh inning, left in the eighth inning, and you look up and he's still throwing 97 and is at 90 pitches, if he's at 100 pitches, it's hard to find somebody in your bullpen that has that kind of stuff, even though he's at 100 pitches," the manager said.
Samardzija left after walking two of the first three batters he faced in the seventh.
Russell, who has been solid all year, got a flyout and walked a batter before giving up Kubel's double. Marmol was up to his old tricks, walking three batters in the eighth in addition to giving up the grand slam.
"I wasn't throwing strikes in key situations," said Marmol, who is 2-3 with a 5.48 ERA. "I wasn't throwing strikes. I wasn't making the pitches when I needed to, and I got hit."
Although Samardzija was not tagged with a loss, he was robbed of a potential victory after giving up 7 hits and 3 runs in 61⁄3 innings, as he walked four and struck out 11.
Although, Samardzija has pitched well, Sveum was quick to say the Cubs have other No. 1-quality starters.
"Right now, we're fortunate enough to have quite a few of them," he said. "I played for a long time and there are certain guys when you wake up in the morning that day that you're like, 'OK, we've got to score a few runs today. This guy is capable of shutouts and giving up just 1 or 2.'"