With ace Jake Arrieta on the hill, the Chicago Cubs had to feel very good about their chances of salvaging a game in the final game of their home series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have lost the last two games in this series to the Pirates, but with Arrieta on the hill, Chicago had the perfect man to get them back on the right track.
In Arrieta's last 11 starts, he's thrown 82.1 innings, giving up just four runs while posting a 0.44 ERA. He has been all sorts of incredible lately and this outing against the Pirates was another example of it.
Sunday night, Arrieta threw seven shutout innings, giving up just one hit and striking out nine. Arrieta had it rolling as he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning until Gregory Polanco broke it up with an opposite field single to left. He lowered his season ERA to 1.82 and struck out eight of the nine starters in Pittsburgh's order to earn his 21st win of the season.
On the Pirates side, they had A.J. Burnett on the hill, and he turned in a great outing but was just outdueled in this one by a superior Arrieta. Burnett went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two.
The Cubs were the only side able to get on the scoreboard on this night and got the scoring started right off of the bat in the first inning.
Kris Bryant came up with an RBI single that scored Dexter Fowler early on to make it 1-0 and gave Jake Arrieta an immediate lead.
Then in the second inning, Arrieta helped his own cause, as he blasted a solo home run to right center field, his second of the season to give the Cubs a 2-0 advantage.
Finally in the seventh off of Pittsburgh reliever Arquimedes Caminero, Starlin Castro had a three-run home run overturned which was turned into a two RBI double to make it 4-0, and that was more than enough runs for Chicago to work with.
Travis Wood came in relief of Arrieta for the Cubs and turned in two no-hit innings to shut things down and help Chicago salvage one game of this three-game series.
With the win, the Cubs are now 4.5 games behind the Pirates in the NL Wild Card race with both teams having secured a spot in the postseason. The Pirates are in line to host the one game playoff on October 7, unless they flip-flop spots in the standings.
The Cubs move on to face the Royals Monday in a makeup game at Wrigley and then will finish their season with three games in Cincinnati and then in Milwaukee.
As for the Pirates, they return home for a big three-game series with the Cardinals who they only trail in the division race by three games. Pittsburgh will then close out the regular season with a series against the Reds.
WP: Jake Arrieta (21-8. 1.82 ERA)
LP: AJ Burnett (9-6, 3.15 ERA)