CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta couldn't duplicate his no-hitter, but he followed up the gem with eight shutout innings in the Cubs' 2-0 victory over the D-backs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta allowed four hits and struck out seven in his 15th consecutive quality start and fourth straight start without allowing an earned run for his Major League-best 18th victory. Chicago is now 42-28 at home this year, surpassing its 41 wins at Wrigley last season.
"It's as good as you're going to get on the Major League Level," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "I thought in the beginning he wasn't as sharp, he kind of hit his stride in the third or fourth inning. Everything started to click and then he got really, really good after that. It's a tribute to his ability, the way he works and his mental preparation is outstanding."
The Cubs' right-hander retired 16 straight batters from the second inning until Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a ground-rule double in the seventh. The catcher was one of two batters Arrieta permitted to reach scoring position the entire game.
"As the game wore on, I started to mix some things up a little differently," Arrieta said. "We used some different sequences, used the change-up quite a bit. It's something I always work on, so when the time comes I'll have a good enough feel for it to use it. The game kind of cruised today."
Dexter Fowler connected on his 16th home run of the year and David Ross grounded out to second for an RBI to provide Chicago's only offense off Arizona starter Robbie Ray. The left-hander struck out eight while surrendering four hits across five innings, but picked up his seventh loss in his last nine outings.
"I felt good," Ray said. "I was able to keep my team in the ballgame and give us a chance to win. That's what we need right now. We're scratching and clawing and trying to get those wins. I felt like I did a good job and gave us a chance."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Home is where the homers are: Fowler's home run on the first pitch in the fifth inning marked the 14th straight game in which the Cubs have connected at Wrigley Field. It's the first time they accomplished such a feat since they hit 15 straight at home in 1991. Chicago has launched 145 home runs this season with a month left in the season. Last year, the Cubs hit 157 home runs.
Early chance squandered: The D-backs had a chance to get to Arrieta in the first inning when Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta collected back-to-back two-out singles. After Peralta stole second to put runners at second and third, Saltalamacchia struck out to end the frame.
"We had chances," D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock said. "We had a couple of times to put [runs] on the board. You have to give [Arrieta] credit, too. Tough situations, he beared down, got us out." More >
Delightful on defense: Arrieta struck out 15 batters in his no-hitter, but this time, he benefitted from a defense that kept Arizona from threatening. Following a lead-off single in the second inning, Arrieta fielded Brandon Drury's grounder toward the mound, fired to shortstop Addison Russell at second before he turned the double play. Russell saved Arrieta of a hit in the next frame when he dove to catch Pollock's liner.
"We did a nice job catching the ball today," Maddon said. "[Russell] had himself a nice day, defensively."
"It's hard for me to fathom that somebody is better than Jake Arrieta. I know numbers are numbers, and there are some guys in L.A. that are doing a really good job, but I'll take that guy on the mound any day of the week." -- Ross, on whether Arrieta should be considered for the National League Cy Young Award.
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Saltalamacchia's ground-rule double was the first extra-base hit Arrieta has allowed over his last four starts.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Maddon's challenge in the seventh inning helped Arrieta's cause after Jake Lamb was ruled safe at first. Lamb's grounder down the third-base line was fielded by Arrieta, but his throw to first pulled Anthony Rizzo off the bag, according to umpire John Hirschbeck. The call was overturned to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Rubby De La Rosa will get the start for the D-backs on Sunday at 11:20 a.m. PT as they wrap up a three-game series at Wrigley Field and a seven-game road trip which included a stop in Denver to face the Rockies.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks gets the nod in the series finale on Sunday from Wrigley Field, looking to rebound from a tough second half. The right-hander has tossed only one quality start since July 10, carrying a 5.59 ERA in that span. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.