Jake Arrieta caps 5-5 Cubs trip with career-high 11 strikeouts
MIAMI — Jake Arrieta made it look easy, then made it sound easy.
The Chicago Cubs right-hander had a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings to beat the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Wednesday.
Arrieta (3-1) lowered his ERA to 1.98, and he has 55 strikeouts in 50 innings.
“I’m not doing anything different,” he said. “I’m just commanding everything down in the strike zone and trying to force early contact. Strikeouts are just a byproduct of throwing several plus pitches for strikes.”
Arrieta has become one of the few bright spots for the last-place Cubs, although they have been playing better lately. By taking the rubber game of the three-game set, they won consecutive road series for the first time since June 2013.
Chicago went 5-5 on a three-city swing.
“We had a nice trip,” manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s big. We’re playing some consistent baseball.”
Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton hit his NL-leading 20th homer in the first but left the game after six innings with a bruised left wrist. Stanton said the injury wasn’t serious, and he expected to be back in the lineup Thursday against the New York Mets.
But his wrist was swollen and bothered him more as the game progressed.
“It was getting tighter and tighter,” he said. “On swings and misses, it hurts a lot.”
Stanton hasn’t missed a game this season, and he leads the NL in homers and RBIs with 57. That’s why manager Mike Redmond took no chances with the injury.
“We need this guy for the long haul,” Redmond said. “He wanted to stay in, but I’m thinking about tomorrow and the next day.”
Stanton was hurt when he hit the wall in the first inning chasing a flyball.
Nate Schierholtz hit a three-run homer for the Cubs. Starlin Castro had two RBI doubles and single batting cleanup.
“I like batting fourth because there are usually runners on base,” Castro said. “I just like that they put me in a spot and leave me there. If they keep moving me around, it breaks my concentration.”
Arrieta allowed five hits and one walk. He also doubled for his first career extra-base hit, but Renteria was more impressed with his pitching.
Arrieta has 27 strikeouts in 20 innings over his past three starts.
“I think he is commanding his fastball better, and his breaking ball is starting to get some bite and location,” Renteria said. “He’s got great stuff, and he’s very composed.”
The Marlins agreed.
“He was using his cutter in good spots and staying on the corners,” Stanton said. “He did a good job.”
Schierholtz was in a 3-for-26 slump before he hit his third homer off Nathan Eovaldi (4-3) in the Cubs’ four-run sixth. Eovaldi, back from paternity leave after joining his wife in Texas for the birth of their first child Monday, declined to blame any distractions for his performance.
“You’ve got to be able to come back and perform,” he said. “If anything, I was excited to get back to the guys and play.”
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/J Pat Carter