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MIL@CHC: Valbuena fails to glove a throw, allows run

CHICAGO -- Darwin Barney had a record-setting error-free game. Unfortunately, Jeff Samardzija didn't.

Samardzija's throwing error in the seventh inning led to the Brewers' go-ahead run and a 3-1 victory Wednesday night over the Cubs, who lost for the 22nd time in the last 28 games.

Barney set a National League single-season record for consecutive games without an error by a second baseman, playing in game No. 114. He topped the mark of 113 games, set by the Padres' David Eckstein in 2010.

"Something like this happens, it's a lot easier to celebrate with a victory," Barney said.

However, the Cubs' second baseman's streak nearly ended. With the game tied at 1 and one out in the Brewers' seventh, Nyjer Morgan bunted for a base hit and was safe at second on Samardzija's throwing error. Morgan advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on Jean Segura's single to center.

"I'd throw that ball every time," Samardzija said. "I grabbed the ball, looked up, [Morgan] had some steps to go, and let it go. It just got away from me a little bit."

One out later, Segura stole second and moved up on a throwing error by catcher Welington Castillo. Barney retrieved the ball in shallow center and threw to third, trying to get Segura. The throw was low, but hit third baseman Luis Valbuena's glove. Segura scored, and official scorer Bob Rosenberg originally charged Barney with an error.

SPOTLESS SECOND
SPOTLESS SECOND Longest errorless streaks at second base
1. Placido Polanco Tigers 2007 141 games
2. Darwin Barney Cubs 2012 114 games
3. David Eckstein Padres 2010 113 games
4. Mark Ellis Athletics 2007 102 games
5. Luis Castillo Twins 2006 99 games
6. Ryne Sandberg Cubs 1989 90 games

But after reviewing the play, Rosenberg changed his call, and gave the error to Valbuena, his seventh this season. He's no threat to Barney. Valbuena had played just seven error-free games since his last mistake.

"I figured it was mine," Barney said of the error. "At that time, your thoughts are on Samardzija. Your thoughts are on doing whatever you can to help win the ballgame. When I made that throw, you walk away thinking those are the kind of errors you're willing to make at this point. I wasn't too upset, it was just one of those things. It's not fortunate because the guy scored -- you can't be happy because the guy changed it."

Manager Dale Sveum said it seemed as if the Cubs threw the ball away three times in about three minutes.

"Sometimes that stuff happens when you're trying to be aggressive," Sveum said. "Barney made a really good throw there -- we would've had that guy out. It didn't work out in our favor."

The American League single-season errorless streak record for a second baseman is held by Placido Polanco, who went 141 games without a miscue in 2007 for the Tigers.

"He's gone far and above preparation on an everyday basis to make himself better," Sveum said of Barney, who leads NL second basemen in fielding percentage. "It all started in Spring Training, the hours he put in and the extra time and the adjustments he made around the bag on the pivot, understanding about when he moves left and right, and using his glove and taking his bare hand out of the equation to get him more length through certain ground balls and angles and positioning.

"He's made a conscious effort to be the best in baseball on an everyday basis," Sveum said. "Not one day have I seen him take any ground balls off or take any days off. It's been the same routine, same intensity every single day for him."

Cubs infield coach Pat Listach credits Barney's fearlessness.

"It's internal," Listach said. "You have to want to go and get every ball."

Listach has told Barney and also shortstop Starlin Castro to be aggressive after fly balls in shallow right or left to help the outfielders. Listach also likes the attitude of his infielders.

"I want all my infielders to not be afraid to make a play," Listach said. "[First baseman Anthony] Rizzo's not afraid, Barney's not afraid, Castro's not afraid and Valbuena's not afraid. Go and make the play. Don't get that mindset where if I get to that ball and bobble it, they'll give me an error.

"Castro's got 20 errors now and some of them were his fault, some of them were bad hops, and some of them were plays that other shortstops don't even get to," Listach said.

Barney's 114-game errorless streak at second base spans 919 1/3 innings since his only 2012 miscue at second base, April 17 in Miami. Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg held the Cubs' previous single-season mark of 90 straight games without a miscue at second from June 21, 1989, through the end of the season. Sandberg's streak was part of his franchise record 123-game errorless stretch that ran through May 17, 1990.

The Cubs couldn't muster much support for Samardzija (8-12), who struck out 10 over seven innings.

"He's got good stuff," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Samardzija, who notched his team-high 15th quality start. "I mean, his fastball is not just hard, when it's down, it's diving. His slider is good. His split-finger is really good, guys aren't picking it up. He's a good pitcher."

In the Milwaukee first, Norichika Aoki doubled and eventually scored on Aramis Ramirez's groundout. The Cubs tied it against Mike Fiers (8-6) in the second on Barney's run-scoring groundout, driving in Bryan LaHair, who had singled.

"It's not good when everybody in the lineup is struggling at the same time," Sveum said.

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