Arrieta, Cubs blank Bucs in 6th straight victory

Arrieta, Cubs blank Bucs in 6th straight victory

PITTSBURGH -- Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler drove in two runs each to back Jake Arrieta's two-hit pitching through seven innings Tuesday night and spark the Cubs to their sixth straight victory, 5-0, over the Pirates at PNC Park.

"We scattered a lot of hits out there, but it's all about the starting pitcher. Jake was outstanding," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after his team's 14-hit performance. "Jake was really good tonight, and that really sets the whole thing up."

Arrieta walked three and fanned five as he lowered his ERA to 2.50 in winning for the sixth time in seven decisions. The only hits off him were singles by Andrew McCutchen with one out in the fourth and by Starling Marte leading off the seventh.

Arrieta dominant now? Just wait, says Maddon

J.A. Happ made his first start for the Pirates, who acquired him at Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline from Seattle, and remained in a rut he'd been in during his final seven weeks with the Mariners. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed eight hits and four runs while remaining with one win in his last 15 starts.

"I'll be better next time," Happ vowed. "I have to be more economical and work ahead of the hitters. I just didn't have any consistency with any of my pitches."

Happ strikes out Fowler

Walk it in: The Cubs got to Happ right away, loading the bases with one out on a pair of singles and an error by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Up came Soler, who swung at Happ's first pitch then took four straight balls to walk in a run. Soler has drawn 23 walks this season, 11 of them against Pirates pitching.

Soler's bases-loaded walk

Coming up empty: The Pirates took a shot at getting back in the game in the seventh, posing their only two-on threat, but found Arrieta up to the challenge. After Marte singled and McCutchen walked to begin the inning, Ramirez lined out, Jung Ho Kang struck out and Neil Walker grounded out.

"The cutter was the go-to pitch for him. We couldn't get the barrel to him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Arrieta. "At one point, we'd seen 90 pitches and had only one hit. We couldn't find a way to connect any dots against him."

Starlin power: Castro went nearly two weeks without an extra-base hit, but he came through with a couple in big situations. 

Castro's second RBI double

Castro knocked an RBI double to right-center field in the third inning and another RBI double to left in the fifth, his first game with multiple extra-base hits since May 12. More >

Castro's RBI double

Caminero comes out dealing: Arquimedes Caminero appeared to rediscover his early-season form, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out a career-high six in relief. In his last four appearances, he has thrown 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits and only one walk, with seven punchouts. More >

Caminero fans six in relief

Anthony Rizzo went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, raising his average to .293, and scored on both of Castro's two-baggers. He has recorded 12 hits over his last six games, seven for extra bases.

Rizzo's four-hit game

"We need to keep it rolling as long as we can. We know the Cardinals aren't slowing down, and these guys aren't either. It's our job to just continue to put the pressure on 'em and let them know we're coming for them." -- Arrieta

"It was nearly a theoretically perfect game outside of that." -- Maddon, on the Cubs leaving 15 runners on base

The Pirates' record this season in front of home crowds of 33,000-plus dropped to 22-8 with Tuesday's defeat witnessed by 34,993.

The Pirates unsuccessfully challenged the call that Travis Ishikawa bounced into a double play to end the eighth inning. Francisco Cervelli was aboard with a one-out single off Tommy Hunter when Ishikawa bounced to Castro at short. He fed second baseman Addison Russell, whose relay to first nipped Ishikawa -- a decision confirmed by a quick replay review.

Cubs turn double play

Cubs: Dan Haren will make his Cubs debut against the Pirates on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. CT at PNC Park. Acquired from the Marlins before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Haren will be making his first appearance against the Bucs since July 23, 2014. He is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three career starts at PNC Park.

Pirates: Jeff Locke seeks to continue his understated strong season when he faces the Cubs in the series finale Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET in PNC Park, where he has been nearly a sure thing for two seasons. The lefty's own record (7-4) doesn't fully reflect it, but the Bucs have won 16 of his last 21 home starts.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.