Pittsburgh Pirates fans were looking for a second consecutive decent start from struggling left-hander Erik Bedard and they got it, but Chicago Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija was just a little bit better as the former Notre Dame wide receiver shut down the potent Bucs offense as the Cubs shutout the Pirates 2-0 in the opening game of a three-game series at PNC Park.
Bedard was fantastic, tossing seven-innings of two-hit ball, striking out 11, walking two on the night. It was a very encouraging outing for Bedard, who may have done enough to stop general manager Neal Huntington for possibly exploring the option of looking for an additional starting pitcher.
The southpaw allowed a run scoring double to Pirates-killer Alfonso Soriano in the fourth and that’s all Samardzija needed on the night.
Samardzija limited the Pirates offense to only one hit through eight innings. Andrew McCutchen reached on an infield single in the fourth, but was erased trying to steal second, as the Bucs never got a runner into scoring position on the night.
Speaking of runners, they only had three on the night as McCutchen walked in the first and Josh Harrison reached on an infield single off Carlos Marmol in the ninth.
Samardzija had stretches where he retired eight and 13 Pirates batters in a row.
Soriano gave the Cubs an insurance run with another RBI double in the ninth, as he had two of Chicago’s four hits on the evening.
Notes: The loss snapped the Pirates season-high five game win streak….Evan Meek made his first appearance since being re-called and was extremely ineffective, walking the first two batters he faced before getting Darwin Barney to ground out.
Winning Pitcher: Samardzija (7-8)
Losing Pitcher: Bedard (5-11)
Save: Marmol (12)
MVP: Samardzija, 8.0 Ip, 1 H, 0 R, 5 K, 1 BB (threw 71 of 99 pitches for strikes)
Play of the Game: Soriano’s RBI double in the fourth gave Samardzija all he needed.
Home Runs: None
Up Next: Tuesday, July 24 vs. Chicago Cubs at 7:05 p.m. EDT
Probable Starters: Paul Maholm (8-6, 4.09 ERA) vs. James McDonald (10-3, 2.93)