Even though pitcher Jake Arrieta figures high into the mix for a job in the Cubs' starting rotation next year, he seems to be taking nothing for granted.
Arrieta made his final start of the season Wednesday and got the victory as the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2.
The right-hander worked 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run as his record improved to 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA. The Cubs obtained the 27-year-old right-hander from Baltimore in the July 2 trade that sent pitcher Scott Feldman to the Orioles. He spent time with the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa team but has had a rotation spot in the big club's rotation since the middle of August.
As of now, Arrieta is penciled in as the No. 4 starter for next year behind Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson.
"I'd be the first to tell you that there's competition in just about every spring training that you're a part of regardless of the organization," Arrieta said. "Spot or no spot, I intend on attacking the off-season the same way. The preparation will be pretty refined and my routine will go on as business as usual, and I look forward to that."
The Cubs got a 3-run homer Wednesday from journeyman Darnell McDonald off Francisco Liriano in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
McDonald, 34, has been in pro ball since 1998 after being the Baltimore Orioles' first-round draft choice in 1997. He went to spring training with the Cubs as a nonroster man and was selected from Class AAA Iowa Aug. 10. The homer was his first of the season, and it came against the top pitcher on a playoff team.
"Very sweet," he said. "That's one of the bigger things all of us can learn from right now. We're trying to get to where these teams are at that we're playing down the stretch, really watch how they go about their business and how they play the game. It's important for us as a young team.
"I think every one of us in here wants to finish the season strong."
The Cubs announced a crowd of 26,171 for Wednesday's home-season finale. That brought the season's announced total to 2,642,682. That represents the lowest season attendance at Wrigley Field since the Cubs drew 2,623,000 in 1998.