Arrieta pitches Cubs past Blue Jays
CHICAGO — Jake Arrieta has promised that his best pitching is yet to come.
It’s hard to complain about his current production, however, as he produced his third straight win and seventh straight quality start in Friday’s 7-4 interleague victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Arrieta (13-8) allowed a first-inning run and two hits and then scattered four hits the rest of the way in his 6 1/3-inning outing.
“I’ve located the ball really well, I’ve established certain things early on in the ballgame that allow me to do things differently as the game progresses,” said Arrieta, who’s yielded just 10 earned runs in his last seven starts.
“The game plan is always to utilize strengths and try to expose a weakness here and there with the opposing offense and try to pitch into the seventh inning.”
The Cubs (64-57) maintained their perch atop the National League Central while the Blue Jays (59-63) saw a two-game winning streak come to a halt.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ (6-9) took the loss and had a three-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a battle for him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I thought he was OK. ... He had to work, he really had to work in those early innings.”
Cubs closer Wade Davis pitched a one-two-three ninth to earn his 25th save.
Chicago shortstop Javier Baez (2-for-4) clubbed a two-run homer — his 20th — in the eighth inning while rookie catcher Victor Caratini went 3-for-3, walked and scored a run to lead the Cubs. Albert Almora Jr. and Anthony Rizzo each also had two hits in Chicago’s 13-hit attack.
Toronto jumped to a short-lived 1-0 lead in the first as Steve Pearce singled to right-center and drove in Justin Smoak with two out.
Chicago replied with three runs in the second. Leadoff batter Ben Zobrist walked, reached third on Caratini’s double and came home on a Jason Heyward single. Baez drove in Caratini with a base hit and Almora singled to shallow right to bring in Heyward.
The Cubs touched up Happ for two more runs in the fifth as Rizzo’s double to left-center brought home Almora and Kris Bryant.
Happ lasted five innings before departing for left-handed reliever Aaron Loup. Happ gave up five runs on nine hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing 103 pitches.
Arrieta left in the seventh after throwing 93 pitches and 61 for strikes. Right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. inherited runners on first and second with one out. He got pinch hitter Kendrys Morales to ground into a fielder’s choice to first and Rizzo fired home to Caratini to catch Kevin Pillar trying to score from third. Edwards closed the frame by striking out Jose Bautista.
Arrieta allowed one run on six hits, walked two and struck out six.
“Today he threw a lot of strikes, he gets ahead in the count that’s when he good,” said Blue Jays catcher Miguel Montero, who caught Arrieta for several seasons while with the Cubs. “That’s why he went deep in the game.”
The Blue Jays hit Cubs reliever Pedro Strop for three eighth-inning runs, including a two-run single by Ryan Goins that scored Montero and Pillar and make it a one-run game.
Chicago replied with a one-out, two-run homer by Baez off reliever Tim Mayza in the bottom of the inning for a 7-4 lead.
NOTES: The weekend interleague series is the Blue Jays’ first visit to Wrigley Field since June 6-8, 2005, the second longest gap beaten the Cubs and any opponent in franchise history. ... Toronto has played only four all-time games at Wrigley, the fewest by any major league team. ... The Blue Jays send RHP Nick Tepesch (1-2, 5.25 ERA) against Cubs LHP Jose Quintana (3-2, 3.86 ERA) in Saturday’s game. ... The Cubs placed LHP Jon Lester (left lat tightness/general shoulder fatigue) and RHP Justin Grimm (finger infection) on the 10-day disabled list on Friday. They called up RHP Felix Pena and LHP Rob Zastryzny from Triple-A Iowa). ... With two solo homers on Thursday, Cubs rookie Ian Happ became only the second Cubs player since at least 1913 with three multi-homer games in his first 78 career games.