The learning process continues for Jeff Samardzija albeit a frustrating one.

Samardzija was one out away from what he and manager Dale Sveum didn't believe was a bad outing Wednesday until pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan's three-run homer in the sixth inning. The eventual 6-0 loss to the Reds prevented the Cubs from earning their first three-game sweep at Cincinnati since May 28-30 2001.

Hannahan's home run marked the third consecutive start in which an opponent's big rally in the sixth had dogged Samardzija. He allowed four runs in the sixth inning against the Phillies on Aug. 30 and against the Marlins on Sept. 4.

"I hold myself to a high standard" Samardzija said after his ERA in 30 starts swelled to 4.44. "The last three games I've had are not acceptable and I'm obviously frustrated about it. I have to keep working keep getting better look forward to that next start and get back on track."

Samardzija (8-12) kept the Cubs close despite allowing a few soft hits among the eight he gave up including Todd Frazier's bloop double that set up two runs on groundouts in the second. As part of helping Samardzija develop as a top-of-the-rotation starter manager Dale Sveum has allowed him to work out of danger in mid-to-late innings as he did in a 3-2 victory at San Diego on Aug. 24.

"He's a big horse and you try to leave him out there to get out of it" said Sveum who was encouraged with Samardzija's efficiency after needing 71 pitches to get through the first three innings. "He couldn't sustain that inning again."

Samardzija already has set career highs with 1942/3 innings and 195 strikeouts. He threw 114 pitches in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday and Sveum said "I'd go out on a limb and say there's a combination of (physical fatigue) and getting mentally wore out right now too."

Samardzija however declined to use that as an excuse. He pointed to the two hits that preceded Hannahan's homer as problems.