Jeff Samardzija allows one hit over eight innings in beating Pirates

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In a pitcher’s duel that included just six hits, the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija was a little better than the Pirates’ Erik Bedard Monday, leading to a 2-0 win for the Cubs.

Andrew McCutchen’s infield single in the fourth was the only hit Samardzija gave up in eight innings of work. The Pirates got another single in the ninth off Carlos Marmol, but they never threatened in the contest.

Bedard was also exceptional, striking out 11 over seven innings. He allowed only one run and two hits, yet he fell to 5-11 for the season.

Samardzija was hoping for a chance at his first career complete game tonight, but manager Dale Sveum said he opted against sending him back out after a 27-minute top of the ninth inning. “I don’t think on his Christmas list right now,” Sveum said afterwards.

Bouncing back from a rough June in which he went 0-4 with a 10.41 ERA, Samardzija is now 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts this month.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.