Flirting with history – Cubs’ Jake Arrieta narrowly misses no-no


Once again, Jake Arrieta was absolutely masterful, throwing his first career complete game, while allowing only one hit in the Chicago Cubs’ 7-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Chris Coghlan hit a key three-run double in the sixth to blow the game wide-open for the Cubs (67-84), and Jorge Soler hit his fifth home run of the season, while Arrieta (9-5, 2.65) completely controlled the Reds (71-81) hitters all night long.

With Johnny Cueto (18-9, 2.33) opposing Arrieta, early on it looked like one-run might be all either would surrender. Arrieta led off the third with a double, followed by Coghlan being hit by a pitch. Luis Valbuena would walk to load the bases to set up the first run of the game on a Soler groundout for a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, Billy Hamilton took a lead-off walk to start the inning which is never a good thing. Hamilton quickly took off for second, and was called safe on the play, as Welington Castillo’s throw to second was wide of the second base bag, forcing Javier Baez to swipe a tag on the back of Hamilton’s leg. Manager Rick Renteria challenged, and the call was overturned, taking a dangerous runner off the bases. After that, Arrieta would strike out the next two hitters and avoid further trouble.

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In the sixth inning, the Cubs were able to take advantage of some uncharacteristic control issues from Cueto. Valbuena started the inning with a single, followed by a Soler double. Back-to-back walks to Castillo and Chris Valaika would force home another run, making it 2-0.

After Logan Watkins grounded into a force out, Matt Szczur drew a second bases-loaded walk to force in the second run of the inning for a 3-0 lead. Two batters later Coghlan hit his bases-clearing double for a 6-0 lead.

Arrieta steadily worked through the Reds lineup, inching closer and closer to baseball history. As the Cubs right-hander brought the count to 0-2 on Brandon Phillips with one out in the eighth, he left the next pitch just a little too far over the plate. Phillips lined it into left-center field, and the center fielder Szczur absolutely sold out in a diving attempt to save the no-hitter but was unable to make the catch as Phillips stopped at second base.

Arrieta would get the chance to close out the complete game one-hit shutout, and did just that. It was his first career complete game and shutout, and the Cubs’ first of the season. His 13 strikeouts were also a new career-high. It was Arrieta’s third no-hit bid this year, and the second that he’s taken into the seventh against the Reds.

The Cubs now have a 21-inning scoreless streak, dating back to the last three innings of the Pittsburgh series. The Cubs haven’t allowed a run in the first two games of this series.

Tomorrow the Cubs will go for the sweep, as Kyle Hendricks (6-2, 2.38) takes on Reds rookie Daniel Corcino (0-0, 5.19). The game is a 7:05 p.m. CT start at Wrigley Field.