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Control abandons Samardzija in loss

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Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija pitches Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Wrigley Field. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO – Fastball command can be Jeff Samardzija’s nemesis on the mound.

When Samardzija has good command, it’s tough for hitters to make contact. That wasn’t the case, however, Friday against the Pirates. Samardzija struggled keeping the ball down in the zone, and Pittsburgh made him regret missing his spots, touching him for five runs in six innings.

Without an effective fastball in his arsenal, Samardzija wasn’t able to pitch aggressively . Samardzija (5-8) didn’t allow a home run, but he fell behind in the count too often and failed to put away batters in the times he was ahead.

“Mix that with being behind in the count and you’re going to be in a battle with hitters all day,” Samardzija said. “When you’re in the middle of the game and understand that, you have to find ways to get outs. I thought I finished strong.”

All-Star selections: The National League and American League All-Star teams will be announced Saturday, with the announcement coming at 5:30 p.m. on FOX.

The Cubs will likely only have one player on the NL team, and manager Dale Sveum believes that player should be starting pitcher Travis Wood. Although Wood has a 5-6 record, his 2.69 ERA ranks 11th in the majors. Wood also hasn’t received much run support. The Cubs average 3.18 runs when Wood is on the mound, tied for seventh worst in baseball. Wood has allowed more than three runs in only two of his 17 starts.

“He’s our All-Star,” Sveum said. “He’s been the most consistent pitcher. He hasn’t had a bad outing. Knock on wood. I don’t care who you are, it’s hard to go out there and not have a hiccup along the way.”

Injury update: Outfielder David DeJesus has started hitting off a tee, but it’s too soon to determine when he could be back in the lineup.

DeJesus (right shoulder sprain) worked off a tee before Friday’s game against the Pirates three weeks after injuring his shoulder when he crashed into the wall at Citi Field.

“He’s able to do some things, raise his arm over his head, so there’s a lot of things going good,” Sveum said. “It’s still a progression, but there’s no timetable at all.”

Brian Bogusevic (hamstring) is still being evaluated, Sveum said, and remains day to day. He is one of three center fielders currently on the DL along with DeJesus and Ryan Sweeney (rib fracture).

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