CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta has noticed a trend in his recent outings, and he plans on making some changes.
The Cubs' right-hander lost for the second time in his past four games, and only the second time in his past 28 starts, as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep with a 7-2 victory at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.
Arrieta lasted five innings, tying his shortest outing of the season, but gave up only one earned run.
"It's a game of adjustments," Arrieta said. "I have to take it in stride and learn from it and go back to work tomorrow and combat the things that teams have done against me recently. It's an easy fix. I think the byproduct will be very positive."
There's a minor mechanical tweak to be made, he said, but mainly the change will be in his approach. Arrieta said he needs to be more aggressive and put the hitter in a hole early instead of falling behind in the count.
"They're taking strike one and hoping I'm outside the strike zone," Arrieta said. "I'll adjust accordingly."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon felt the problem was simply fastball command, or lack thereof.
"I don't think he's getting it where he wants to all the time," Maddon said. "He has to get back to the fastball going where he wants to, and once he does, he'll be exactly the same as last year."
Last year was pretty good, as Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award, posting a 22-6 record and 1.77 ERA. Despite giving up one earned run Wednesday, his ERA stayed at 1.74.
"They had a pretty good approach against him," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said of the Cardinals. "They did a good job. They made him pitch deep into the count, and they laid off a lot of good pitches that were balls. They were pitches you wanted them to swing at, and they laid off. I think it was just they did a good job, it's as simple as that."
Arrieta might have escaped without giving up a run if the Cubs had completed a double play in the fifth, but second baseman Ben Zobrist's throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo bounced in the dirt for an error, and two runs scored.
"I thought the big play of the game was not turning the double play," Maddon said. "Jake struggled through the five and could've gotten out of it with nothing, but that play gave them some momentum, and [Michael Wacha] pitched well."
Arrieta, who missed in his bid for his 12th win, is well aware of what he needs to do.
"It's not a bad problem to have," he said. "Guys up there standing with their bats on their shoulders early in the counts will favor me going forward."
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.