CHICAGO – With the Cubs 14½ games out of first place, they were looking for a positive sign from starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Carlos Gomez broke a scoreless tie in the ninth with an RBI single, and Jeff Bianchi added a two-run double to lift the Milwaukee Brewers over the Cubs, 5-0, on Monday night.
Despite the loss, it was an encouraging outing by Samardzija.
After struggling in July with a 1-2 record and a 6.85 ERA, Samardzija was sharp in the no-decision. He threw seven shutout innings of three-hit ball, struck out seven and walked only two batters.
"I was pretty happy with how everything went," Samardzija said. "I kept the walks down. The leadoff hitter I got out (six of seven innings). Pretty efficient out there."
The Brewers got one runner as far as third base, but Samardzija struck out Jean Segura to end a second-and-third threat in the sixth. Earlier in the inning, Samardzija knocked down Norichika Aoki's comebacker with his bare hand to retire him at first. After being checked out by a team trainer he was able to continue.
Samardzija did not give up his first hit until Caleb Gindl singled with two outs in the fifth, but he quickly got out of the inning by striking out Juan Francisco looking.
"He was pretty much completely dominating the whole game," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
The only downside to Samardzija's performance was that he threw 109 pitches.
"Obviously he got the pitch count up through seven innings," Sveum said. "But he did his job. Obviously you can't do any better than that."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was also impressed with Samardzija.
"When he is on, he's really good," Roenicke said.
Samardzija's effort marked the third consecutive game that a Cubs starting pitcher had not allowed a run in seven innings of work. The last time they did that was back in August 1971.
"It's a good thing we've got going with the rotation," Samardzija said. "I like where I'm at right now to tell you the truth."
When asked about his future with the Cubs regarding trade deadline rumors, Samardzija was emphatic.
"It wouldn't be a good move. I haven't thought about it at all," Samardzija said.
The Brewers, sitting in last place in the NL Central, won for the third time in eight games and ended the Cubs' winning streak at three. Reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory.
Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (1-1) gave up the single to Gomez on an 0-2 pitch and Jean Segura easily scored from second to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. With one out and the bases loaded, Bianchi gave the Brewers insurance with a double to right to score two more runs and Rickie Weeks also added a two-run double as Milwaukee batted around in the ninth.
On a cool July night, the Cubs opened an eight-game homestand with a little different look. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano and pitcher Matt Garza were both traded while the Cubs were on a 10-game road trip as team president Theo Epstein continues the rebuilding process.
In his Wrigley Field debut, left fielder Junior Lake was 2-for-4, breaking out of an 0-for-14 slump.
Brewers starter Kyle Lohse pitched six innings. He pitched around five hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Lohse has only allowed one run in his last 19 innings.
NOTES: Before the game, the Cubs observed a moment of silence for former pitcher Frank Castillo. Castillo apparently drowned at a lake northeast of Phoenix on Sunday. Castillo had an 82-104 record in 13 major league seasons. He pitched for the Cubs, Colorado, Detroit, Toronto, Boston and Florida from 1991 to 2005 before retiring and lived in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. He was 44. He was with the Cubs from 1991 to 1997. ... The Cubs and the Brewers are scheduled for a day-night doubleheader Tuesday. ... Segura was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's game with forearm tightness.