CHICAGO -- After five innings Sunday, D-backs manager Chip Hale knew his hitters had registered lots and lots of K's. Twelve to be exact. That's not something that is usually celebrated, but Hale knew the pitch count for Cubs ace Jake Arrieta was rising quicker than the strikeout total.
While the D-backs were swinging and missing, they were also working deep counts, and those two things combined led to Arrieta's exit after five innings and a 3-2 win for Arizona which salvaged the final game of the three-game series.
Hale likened the strategy to the one employed by the late heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, who used to tire his opponents by laying back on the ropes while they landed a flurry of punches that did little damage.
"It was a tribute to Muhammad Ali," Hale said. "We did the rope-a-dope, making [Arrieta] throw so many pitches even though most of them were strikeouts. We did battle early and got his pitch count high."
The D-backs also got their share of hits, as they collected nine of them, while scoring three runs to deal Arrieta his first defeat since July 25, 2015.
Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn set the tone for the day when he saw 10 pitches to start the game. Overall, Bourn went 1-for-3 against Arrieta with a pair of strikeouts, and saw 19 pitches in the process.
"For some reason, every time I face him -- you can even ask him -- we get to 3-2 counts all the time," Bourn said. "He usually wins the battle. I got one hit against him today, though. He's tough, man, he's got the ball moving both ways with curveball and a changeup and we just battled him and battled him and battled him. We were able to get his pitch count up. I had a good at-bat against him my first at-bat."
Yasmany Tomas delivered a two-run double in the second to get the scoring started, and Paul Goldschmidt hit one through the hole at third to drive home another in the fifth.
"They had a pretty good approach," Arrieta said. "They made me show that I had the ability to throw strikes or get in the strike zone early, with the intent to get in some hitter-friendly counts."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.