Lackey paves way with shutout ball into 7th

Lackey paves way with shutout ball into 7th

CHICAGO -- John Lackey has a long memory and a strong sense of pride.

That was a bad combination for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, as Lackey threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out nine to lead the Cubs to a 6-0 win in the opener of a weekend series.

In Lackey's assessment, it was payback for the D-backs scoring six runs off him April 7 in Arizona, his first start of the season.

"They got some runs off me in my first start of the year, so I felt like I kind of owed them one," said Lackey, who still got the win in the Cubs' 14-6 victory in that game. "So I was going to try and get after it a little bit."

Lackey continued what's been a dominant season for the Cubs' starting staff to date, allowing five hits and walking two to lower his ERA to 2.88. The performance also gave Chicago the distinction of all five of its starters boasting ERAs under 3.00.

Lackey also came one out away from giving the Cubs their fourth straight start of seven innings or longer, which would've set a new season high. He settled for posting his seventh consecutive quality start.

Maddon on 6-0 win over D-backs

Prior to the game, manager Joe Maddon called Lackey the "linchpin" of the dominant rotation. Afterward, Maddon lauded the club's signing of Lackey as a free agent.

"I thought he'd be one of the top signings of the offseason when it occurred," Maddon said. "I think I actually said that. Again, you saw the edge that he provides [today]. Their guy was really good. I'd not seen [Archie] Bradley before and he was really good. ... We're not making any noise on him so we need our guy to equal that, and he did. But you just expect that out of John."

Lackey did get into three tough spots with two runners on base, but worked out of the first two -- in the second and fourth -- and watched right-hander Adam Warren nix the third threat in the seventh.

Lackey is certainly pitching up to Maddon's linchpin descriptor.

"I'm good with that, yeah," Lackey said. "I take a lot of pride in being somebody you can count on, somebody who takes the ball and somebody who goes deep into games and somebody who you know what you're going to get."

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.