ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta seems nearly untouchable most of the time. He had allowed nine earned runs all season and came into Wednesday's game with eight wins and a 1.29 ERA. He left Busch Stadium with nine victories after the Cardinals fell short in a 9-8 loss to the Cubs, but Arrieta's numbers continue to take a turn for the worse when he sees the birds on the bat.
His line Wednesday read four runs on seven hits in five innings with four strikeouts. It was the most runs Arrieta had given up in a regular-season game since last June 16 and his fewest strikeouts since July 17. Including the postseason, the Cardinals are the only team in the Major Leagues which has tagged Arrieta for four runs three times over the past two seasons.
Down, 6-1, entering the second inning against Arrieta, the Cardinals battled back to make it 6-4 before he was replaced by Adam Warren.
"We grind, whoever it is," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We acknowledge the fact that he's a good pitcher and has had a good start. I think for us to give too much credit and walk up there defeated is a bad route. We go out there and fight whoever they put against us, and I thought the guys did a nice job of grinding out at-bats."
The Cardinals showed immediately that they weren't intimidated by the previous numbers Arrieta had put up. The 2015 National League Cy Young winner allowed a run in the first inning in a regular-season game for the first time since May 29, 2015, a date which also marked the last time he allowed three home runs in an outing like he did on Wednesday.
"I think definitely our approach has been good against him," second baseman Kolten Wong said. "The guy is definitely one of the best pitchers in the game, everybody knows that. We definitely went in there with a chip on our shoulder to show we're still good, regardless of who is on the mound."
Randal Grichuk's home run in the second inning broke Arrieta's 51-inning streak without a home run allowed in the regular season. Though the Cubs' ace still notched another win, the Cardinals' damage was evident on the stat sheet. Arrieta's ERA slipped to 1.72, which dropped him from first to third among starters in the Major Leagues.
"Being able to put up runs against one of the best in the game arguably is huge for us," Grichuk said. "Obviously, we wanted to pull out that W. We didn't, but there is still a lot of positives to take away from this. We're just going up there and trying to put together good quality at-bats. This team can do that, and they showed it today."
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.