WASHINGTON - Jeff Samardzija's worst start of the season Friday at Nationals Park had nothing to do with any lingering effects from pitching with a cut on his finger in Cincinnati two weeks ago.
"It's 100 percent," said the Cubs pitcher who's still looking for his first win since Opening Day. "I felt great. That's one of the frustrating things."
Another: Facing this Nationals team in this city - where a 7-3 loss was the Cubs' sixth straight at Nationals Park dating to 2011. The Nats have scored an average of 9.3 runs in those games.
"Obviously anytime you play these teams that are at the top of their division, you want to come out and play your best ball and measure up against them," said Samardzija, who allowed five earned runs and two more as a result of his fielding error in the second.
It was the eighth error by the Cubs' pitching staff this season, by far the most of any staff in the majors - and one more than the entire Arizona Diamondbacks roster (entering play Friday).
--Starlin Castro batted leadoff for the first time since Aug. 4, doubled twice, scored once and was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single in the third. Manager Dale Sveum said he'll be the regular leadoff man against lefty starters, now that Dave Sappelt has been optioned to the minors.
--As expected, the Cubs activated Kyuji Fujikawa (elbow) from the disabled list, and he pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a strikeout. Sveum said he plans to ease him back into an eighth-inning role.
--After declining an outright assignment to the minors, reliever Kameron Loe was granted his release.