Home runs create some home cooking for Cubs
Problems winning at home? What problems winning at home?
Problems with the offense? What problems with the offense?
Those were the questions of the day Monday before the Cubs went out and thrashed the Washington Nationals 11-1 on a warm night at Wrigley Field.
The night featured 2-homer games from Nate Schierholtz and Donnie Murphy and 1 from Dioner Navarro. Schierholtz wound up with a career-high 6 RBI, as he doubled home a run in the third.
That enabled starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija to cruise to his first victory since July 19, as he improved to 7-11 with a 4.12 ERA. Samardzija tossed his second complete game of the season and the third of his career.
One night doesn't make a season, and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer is aware of that.
The Cubs entered the game on pace to lose a franchise-worst 50 games at Wrigley Field.
"It's frustrating, to be honest with you," Hoyer said. "I don't know why we haven't played well here. Historically, I know the Cubs, three times in the last 50 years, they've won 50 games at home.
"It's a problem that hasn't been solved by many different teams. We have to figure it out. We have to make this place a homefield advantage for us. We're not going to get where we want to go if we do struggle at home."
Hoyer cited the Cubs' lack of hitting with runners in scoring position, chronic problems getting on base and sloppy baseball.
He promised a good, hard look at solving the team's offensive woes this off-season.
"I think the biggest thing we have to figure out is offensively," he said. "We do some things pretty well. Our slugging percentage has been pretty good this year. But we've got to get to the bottom of the runners-in-scoring-position issue.
"We haven't been the worst batting-average team in baseball in the National League for two years, but we've been the worst in scoring position. The fact that those two things don't line up is a frustration.
"We have to get on base more, period.
"There's a team offensive element that I don't think we're all that good at. I think we're last in the league in sacrifice bunts, last in sacrifice flies. We have to get better at all those elements.
"We're going to take a pretty hard look at our offense this off-season, for sure, and going forward. We have a lot of young offensive talent coming, but we can't just rely on the young guys. We have to figure out how we can be a more efficient offensive team."
That wasn't a problem Monday.
Schierholtz hit a 3-run homer to right field in the first inning against Jordan Zimmermann, putting the Cubs well on their way.
Schierholtz hit his run-scoring double in the fourth, and he drove in 2 more with a homer in the seventh, giving him 18 homers to tie him with Anthony Rizzo for the team lead.
"It was fun," Schierholtz said. "Samardzija pitched a great game. Our pitching's been great this year. We just have to score more runs. It was nice to give him a break tonight."
Samardzija didn't walk a batter while striking out five. He threw only 105 pitches.
"Really, it comes down to the offense we got," he said. "The last thing you want to do is start walking guys. Regardless of what I did, you've got to tip your hat to the offense.
"Pitching in the zone allows you to relax and throw your pitches. They were great out there."
•Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.
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