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.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.