The Chicago Cubs sent Jake Arrieta to mound for his first start at PNC Park since he shutout the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game last October and Arrieta picked up right where he left off.
Jake Arrieta (6-0, 0.84 ERA) took the mound on Tuesday night at PNC Park and promptly walked the first two Pirates (15-12) he faced and instantly things looked like they weren’t going to be quite the same as they were last October when Arrieta last faced the Pirates. However, the Pirates OF Matt Joyce (who is 7-for-14 in his career against Arrieta) then grounded into a double play promptly killing any rally the Pirates were trying to start. Arrieta then got Francisco Cervelli to ground out and the inning quickly ended.
The Cubs (19-6) got to work then in the second inning off Pirates starter Jonathan Niese (3-1, 5.94 ERA). After Anthony Rizzo walked and Ben Zobrist doubled to start the second, Javier Baez hit an RBI groundout to plate Rizzo and give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Later that inning, Arrieta came to the plate with the bases loaded and lined the first pitch he saw up the middle giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Arrieta settled in after that. He allowed a hit to Sean Rodriguez in the second and nothing else.
The Cubs added to their lead in the fourth inning. Addison Russell drew a walk and catcher Tim Federowicz doubled to right, his first hit as a Cub to start the inning. After Arrieta struck out, Niese uncorked a wild pitch with Fowler at the plate giving the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Fowler eventually walked, and Jorge Soler then promptly singled to score Federowicz, extending the Cubs lead to 4-0. Kris Bryant then crushed a pitch to deep left center but CF Andrew McCutchen was unable to make the catch despite getting a glove on it. It turned into a long single and Fowler scored to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo then doubled to center to score Soler and the Cubs suddenly had a comfortable 6-0 lead.
That was really all Cubs ace Jake Arrieta needed. He finished the game going 7 innings, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out five, as he becomes the first Cubs pitcher since Mordecai Brown in 1908 to win his first 6 starts of the season.
The Pirates got a run in the eighth inning on an RBI groundout off Trevor Cahill but that was all the Pirates would get. Cubs added on in the ninth with a sac fly by Ben Zobrist and that was that. The Cubs cruised to their 19th victory of the season, the most in the majors with an easy 7-1 win over the Pirates.