Cubs thump D-backs, back atop Central alone

Cubs thump D-backs, back atop Central alone

PHOENIX -- Jake Arrieta pitched six quality innings and Javier Baez smacked a three-run homer as the Cubs captured the series with the D-backs and moved a game ahead of the second-place Cardinals with a 7-2 win Sunday afternoon at Chase Field.

"We keep an eye on [the standings], especially at this time of year," Arrieta said. "All we can do is play the best we can and try to win that day."

Arrieta (12-8) kept the D-backs off the board until the fifth, while the Cubs built a 2-0 lead against Zack Godley. Arrieta pitched out of several jams and struck out six, with the lone run coming on a sacrifice fly by David Peralta.

Arrieta cites mechanics for 2nd-half success

Arrieta's strong outing

After single runs in the first and second, the Cubs' offense went quiet until the eighth, when Baez crushed a hanging Jake Barrett breaking a ball off the LED board in front of Friday's Front Row Sports Grill, tracked by Statcast™ at 463 feet and hit at 112.6 mph -- both high marks for Baez.

"There's times he can be frustrating and other times, he hits three-run homers in the upper tank," manager Joe Maddon said of Baez, whose error Saturday night led to a D-backs run in a 6-2 win over the Cubs.

Baez made the D-backs pay for intentionally walking Jason Heyward in front of him and gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Ian Happ followed with a solo shot, the seventh time the Cubs have hit back-to-back homers this season.

"Baez is a guy who loves the moment," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He loves to be up there in that situation with that personality and he was waiting for that mistake. I think we helped create that moment, we just didn't execute. I know the plan was in place to do a better job, but unfortunately it just didn't happen."

In the ninth, Kris Bryant smacked a leadoff blast, his 21st homer and first since July 30, to finish 3-for-4. He reached base in all but two of his 15 plate appearances in the three-game series.

Bryant's big day at the dish

"He's the reigning National League MVP and he's a hot hitter, so anytime somebody at that level is hot you could roll a ball up there and they're still going to hit it," Lovullo said. "Hopefully he takes it out on the next set of pitchers."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sprinting for home: Heads-up baserunning by Bryant helped the Cubs get off to a 1-0 lead in the first. After Bryant singled and moved to second on a walk, he came around to score when Godley's third-strike pitch to Victor Caratini got away from catcher Chris Iannetta. Bryant never broke stride rounding third and was able to slide in just ahead of the tag.

Must C: Bryant flashes speed

"He threw it and fell down and I saw him fall and I made my mind up really early I was going," Bryant said of his scramble. "It was a lot closer than I thought it would be. It was one of those plays being aggressive and knowing he has good stuff on the mound. I thought it would be tough to score runs today. It was important to get on the board early." More >

Bryant on his big game, series

Stay there: The D-backs got a double from Jake Lamb to lead off the fourth and it looked as though they might have the makings of a big inning. Arrieta, though, had other ideas as he struck out Paul Goldschmidt and then retired J.D. Martinez and Daniel Descalso to leave Lamb stranded at second. Lamb went 3-for-4, while the rest of Arizona's lineup was held hitless until Goldschmidt's 28th homer, a solo shot in the ninth off Cubs closer Wade Davis.

"We had a couple of moments where I felt like he was on a little bit of a slippery slope," Lovullo said of Arrieta. "And we could've taken advantage of some things and scored some runs and he got on a nice roll."

Lovullo on the 7-2 loss

QUOTABLE
"[The Cardinals] have been playing well. Give them credit. I thought they'd be there until the very end. I still think Pittsburgh is there, Milwaukee is still there. There will be a real interesting finish to the [NL] Central this year." -- Maddon

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Godley wound up striking out four Cubs in the first after Caratini reached first on a strikeout/wild pitch. That was the second time in D-backs franchise history that a pitcher recorded four strikeouts in one inning. The other time was when Oliver Perez fanned four Brewers in the seventh inning Sept. 20, 2014. More >

Godley K's four in the 1st

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The D-backs initiated a manager's challenge in the third when Caratini was called safe while advancing to second after Bryant was tagged out in a rundown between third and home. After a brief review the call stood, meaning there was not sufficient video evidence to overturn it.

Caratini called safe at second

In the eighth, Albert Almora Jr. hit a grounder to third and was called out on a bang-bang play at first base. The Cubs challenged the call, but after a review, it was confirmed and Almora was out. It hardly mattered, though, as the Cubs went on to score four runs in the inning.

Almora Jr. grounds out to third

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Jose Quintana will make his sixth start with the Cubs on Monday to open a four-game series against the Reds. It will be the lefty's first career start against the Reds, who are one of four teams he's never faced. First pitch will be 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.

D-backs: Zack Greinke will be on the mound Monday as the D-backs open a four-game, home-and-home series with the Astros at 6:40 p.m. MST. Greinke is 10-1 with a 2.52 ERA at Chase Field this year, taking his only loss there last week against the Dodgers.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

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.