Hanson, Braves beaten by Samardzija

ATLANTA (AP) — Tommy Hanson said he was pitching

well enough to win, even when matched against Jeff Samardzija’s dominant

splitter.

Then came the seventh

inning.

Hanson gave up a tiebreaking three-run double

to Luis Valbuena and the Atlanta Braves, baffled by Samardzija’s

devastating splitter, fell to the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Monday

night.

Hanson (9-5) gave up four runs and seven hits

in seven innings for his first loss since May 28. He went 4-0 with a

3.13 ERA in June.

“It’s frustrating,” Hanson said.

“It’s not like I went out there and got beat up. I felt like I had good

stuff and it just came down to that one

inning.”

Hanson made it through seven innings for

only the sixth time in 17 starts, but appeared to fade in his final

inning.

Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger started the

seventh with singles, and Darwin Barney walked to load the bases.

Valbuena, the No. 8 hitter who began the day with a .226 batting

average, then doubled to right field for a 4-1

lead.

“I wanted to throw a back-door slider right

there and it kind of leaked over the middle,” Hanson

said.

Anthony Rizzo hit Hanson’s first pitch of the

fourth inning over the wall in left-center for his second

homer.

“He guessed right and ambushed me,” said

Hanson of Rizzo. “It was a fastball down and away and he hit it out of

the park.”

Samardzija had a career-high 11

strikeouts.

Samardzija (6-7) yielded one run and four

hits in seven innings, rebounding from a rough June. The right-hander

was 0-4 with a 12.27 ERA in his previous four starts, allowing a

season-high nine runs during a 17-1 loss to the Mets on

Wednesday.

“It’s about time, you know?” Samardzija

said.

“I just thought I took my time from pitch to

pitch. I thought I made the right pitch selection based on the previous

pitch.”

Samardzija began the night with a 5.05

ERA.

Against the Braves, however, Samardzija has been

sharp. He gave up five hits and one run in seven innings, while

striking out seven, in a 5-1 win over the Braves in Chicago on May

7.

“Both times I’ve faced him, he’s had unbelievable

stuff,” Hanson said. “He throws hard and has that good split and starts

throwing those sliders in there. Anytime you’re mixing three pitches,

it’s tough.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said a key for

Samardzija was he allowed “a three-pitch pitcher to be a three-pitch

pitcher” by using his slider, splitter and

fastball.

The splitter was the most devastating

pitch.

“There were a couple times he threw it four or

five times in a row,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “And we had

no chance on it. Especially left-handed

hitters.”

Chicago has won four straight and six of

seven. Rizzo, one of the Cubs’ top prospects, has two homers in six

games since he was recalled on Tuesday.

“The way

we’re playing right now is exciting,” Samardzija said. “It’s solid all

around.”

Samardzija said it may not be a coincidence

that the Cubs’ surge has come since Rizzo joined the

team.

“It definitely hasn’t hurt,” Samardzija said.

“Rizzo’s presence in our lineup has been big, a big left-handed

hitter.”

Rizzo, who had two hits, is hitting

.304.

Jeff Russell pitched the ninth for his second

save.

Atlanta tied it in the sixth. With two outs,

Michael Bourn doubled to left field and scored on Martin Prado’s

single.

The Braves’ only hit through five innings

came with two outs in the second, when Dan Uggla, hustling all the way,

beat out an infield hit on a grounder to shortstop Starlin

Castro.

Andrelton Simmons led off the Atlanta third

with a walk, took second on his first career stolen base and advanced to

third on a wild pitch by Samardzija. Hanson then struck out and Bourn

lined into a double play.

Barney made a diving stop

on Simmons’ ground ball behind second base and threw him out in the

eighth. The second baseman then went the other way to snag a sharply hit

grounder by pinch-hitter Eric Hinske for the second

out.

NOTES: Cubs 3B Ian Stewart,

who has been on the disabled list since June 12, will have surgery on

his left wrist. Sveum said the date for the procedure has not been set.

Stewart is batting .201 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 179 at-bats. …

Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, who has been on the 15-day DL since June 18

with tightness in his right lat muscle, threw 40 pitches in the bullpen.

Barring a setback, he plans to throw again in the bullpen on Wednesday.

Sveum said he doesn’t think Dempster will need a minor league rehab

stint. … Braves C Brian McCann, who was only 3 for 21 on the homestand

before Monday night, was moved down to seventh in the batting order,

the first time he has hit below sixth this season. McCann was 0-for-3

and is hitting only .224. … The four-game series continues on Tuesday

night with RHP Jair Jurrjens facing Cubs RHP Chris Volstad. …

Samardzija’s previous high of nine strikeouts came on April 24 against

St. Louis.