CHICAGO -- For the first time in what seems like forever, Jake Arrieta didn't look sharp, yet he still got a win and became the first Cubs pitcher to open a season 5-0 since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in 2006.
"All I can say is he's human," Cubs catcher David Ross said.
Arrieta's record scoreless streak at home ended in the fifth inning of the Cubs' 7-2 win over the Brewers. Alex Presley smacked an RBI double with two outs to drive in Jonathan Villar and end the Cubs pitcher's streak at 52 2/3 scoreless innings. It's the longest stretch in Wrigley Field history and the second longest in Major League history. Only the White Sox Ray Herbert had a longer streak at 54 scoreless innings at Comiskey Park, spanning 1962-63.
"It had to end at some point, but we'll try to start another one," Arrieta said.
Arrieta was coming off his second career no-hitter, and Villar led off the game with a single to end any bid for consecutive no-no's, something only Johnny Vander Meer has done in Major League history.
The Brewers made Arrieta work in the first, loading the bases on Villar's single and two walks. Ross then went out for a chat. The problem was that Arrieta's two-seam fastball was hard to control, so Ross asked him to throw a cutter to try to get Arrieta's hand on top of the ball. It worked, and the right-hander struck out both Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Arrieta's streak of consecutive quality starts ended at 24 when manager Joe Maddon pulled him after five innings. The Cubs led, 6-1, at that point and the bullpen was fresh. Plus, Maddon is looking ahead.
"I saw 92 pitches, I saw Jake Arrieta, I saw the Cubs trying to win a World Series, I saw the next five years of his career," Maddon said. "I know his kids really well. All that stuff mattered more than breaking [Bob] Gibson's record."
Gibson holds the Major League mark of 26 quality starts set during the 1967-68 seasons. Arrieta understood Maddon's thinking.
"In this position last year, I might have been a little more frustrated with that decision," Arrieta said. "I think it was 92 pitches after five, and I really had to work through that outing. You take everything into consideration and the extra off-days and the rainout [Wednesday], cold weather, extended pitch counts, long first inning -- it is the right way to go. Our most important ballgames are still ahead of us. From this point moving forward, we're still lined up well."
It's tough to say Arrieta had a bad outing. He gave up one run, kept the Cubs in the game. Expectations are high for the right-hander.
"You can't expect a guy to be perfect every time," Maddon said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.