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updated: 5/6/2014 12:40 AM

Cubs' Samardzija throws 126 times in loss to Sox

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers in a late setting sun during the first inning of an interleague baseball game against the White Sox Monday, May 5, 2014, at Wrigley Field.

      Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija delivers in a late setting sun during the first inning of an interleague baseball game against the White Sox Monday, May 5, 2014, at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

At least we can change the subject now.

After Sunday night's loss to St. Louis and before Monday night's game against the White Sox, Cubs manager Rick Renteria was asked more than once about his management of the bullpen.

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He had to talk why he allowed reliever Hector Rondon throw in four straight games over five days.

The talk in the press box and all over social media Monday night was why Renteria was allowing starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija to run his pitch count past 120 and up to 126.

The Cubs wound up losing the game 3-1 in 12 innings. Marcus Semien hit an RBI double off reliever Justin Grimm to break the tie. Grimm walked in the third run.

Samardzija was brilliant once again. Over 9 strong innings, he gave up only 3 hits and an unearned run in the first inning while walking two and striking out seven.

Renteria was of no mind to take him out.

"What a great outing," the manager said. "Gritty, gutsy, everything you could ask for. We wanted that game for him. We just couldn't get it.

"He wanted that game, absolutely. He wanted that game. He was still strong. Even in the eighth, he was still blowing.

"I thought he was very efficient, actually. Sometimes it will take guys to throw 110 (pitches) through 7. That was 9 innings."

On top of that, Samardzija broke up the no-hit bid of White Sox starter Jose Quintana with a double to the left-field wall leading off the bottom of the sixth. He wound up scoring the tying run on Junior Lake's sacrifice fly.

As the game wore on, Samardzija struck out the side in the sixth. He went 1-2-3 in both the seventh and eighth. Renteria sent Samardzija up to the plate to bat with one out in the bottom of the eighth, and Samardzija grounded back to the pitcher.

Out to the mound went Samardzija for the ninth inning with 107 pitches on his arm. He got Gordon Beckham on a grounder to short to start the inning but walked Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn back to back.

The pitch count might well have gone well over 130 had Dayan Viciedo not grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

The book on Samardzija closed with his ERA having dropped from 1.98 at the start of the evening to 1.62 at the end.

His record held at a hard-luck 0-3. He has not won a decision since Aug. 24, 2013, against San Diego. It also was Samardzija's sixth quality start in 7 outings this year.

The modern-day focus on pitch counts no doubt will prompt continued questions in the coming days to Renteria about why he allowed his ace pitcher to run it up so high.

No doubt Samardzija's competitive spirit had something to do with it. He's unwilling to come quietly out of most games. And at 6-feet-5 and 225 pounds, Samardzija is hardly of the frail body type.

"I was pretty hungry for that one," he said. "I just wanted to keep giving my team a chance to get back in the dugout. It was tough conditions to hit. I felt great. I can only base it off how I feel.

"You want to pitch late in the game. This whole 100-pitch thing has just become this big facade that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

"You have to go by the guy himself and the type of person he is. They let me go, and I've proven I can pitch late in the game."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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