Arrieta homers, pitches 7 innings to lead Cubs over Arizona
PHOENIX -- The Chicago Cubs are finally leaving the West Coast after almost two months of spring training and a half-dozen real games, and they're headed home in high spirits.
Jake Arrieta homered and pitched seven innings, helping the Cubs finish off an impressive first week by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 on Sunday.
Chicago, with a two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels and three wins in four games against Arizona, is tied with Cincinnati for the best record in the NL at 5-1. The Cubs host the Reds in their home opener Monday night at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta (2-0) allowed three runs and eight hits, striking out six. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner gave himself a boost with a two-out, two-run homer in the second inning off Shelby Miller (0-1).
"That ball was crushed. It really was uplifting for us," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Relentless at-bats. There's nobody giving up anything."
Arrieta hit two home runs in 2015 and has three in his career.
"This was a nice changeup for us to get to play in some warm weather and some favorable environments," Arrieta said.
"Obviously we're all excited for opening day at Wrigley Field. It's a special time in Chicago, obviously for the Cubs fans. ... It's kind of what you live for. To start a season off like we have and then going home to play in front of your home crowd is a special feeling."
Arrieta had thrown 32 straight scoreless innings in the regular season, dating to last year, before Arizona scored.
Jorge Soler also homered for the Cubs. Miguel Montero hit two doubles off the center field wall against his former team and Tommy La Stella added three hits for Chicago.
"I thought those balls had a pretty good chance to go out," Montero said. "But I guess I need to hit the weight room a little bit more."
Paul Goldschmidt and Socrates Brito connected off Arrieta. It was Brito's first major league home run.
The Diamondbacks are 2-5 after losing series to Colorado and Chicago.
"It was frustrating at times but we played some good baseball," manager Chip Hale said. It's seven games in. It's not how we wanted to start but you know what, you tip your caps to the Cubs and the Rockies. They outplayed us and they won the series."
Soler's solo homer put the Cubs ahead 4-3 in the sixth. Miller pitched to two batters in the inning and left having allowed four runs on seven hits.
Soler had a sacrifice fly and La Stella had an RBI single in the seventh, and Jason Heyward singled in Addison Russell in the eighth.
"I was good enough on the mound. I was in the middle of the plate a little bit too much," Arrieta said. "No walks, threw a lot of strikes, used a good mix when I had to."
Diamondbacks assistant hitting coach Mark Grace delivered a video message to retiring Cubs catcher David Ross during a break in Sunday's game. Grace relived the night he gave up Ross' first major league home run in 2002, with Grace pitching in a blowout. Ross doffed his cap toward the Diamondbacks dugout in gratitude. Ross, 39, is retiring at the end of this season after parts of the past 15 seasons in the majors which includes a World Series championship with Boston in 2013.
Cubs: OF-C Kyle Schwarber has to decide if he can and wants to be part of the team's home opener festivities, Maddon said. Schwarber is on crutches and out for the season after suffering two torn knee ligaments in an outfield collision on Thursday. "I'm sure the fans do appreciate what he did last year. They just appreciate him," Maddon said. "Nobody wants to see him get hurt but I know actually there are probably a lot of people that appreciate the way he got hurt."
Diamondbacks: Hale said the team is going about its daily business with the feeling that OF A.J. Pollock, who had surgery for a broken elbow this past week, will not be back this season. "We're prepared right now not to have him back because that's just the way we think. You think day to day," Hale said. "I'm just worried about him and his health and his well-being for his career. It's always fun to imagine hey, maybe we get him back for September. What a great shot in the arm he would be to get back at that point, if he's healthy."
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (1-0) gets the start in the home opener Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds and Brandon Finnegan (0-0). "I would imagine it's going to be cool," Lester said. "Anytime you go back home it's always nice. I'm sure the atmosphere will be pretty fun, even though it'll be colder than two hells." The temperature is expected to be in the 40s at night in Chicago.
Diamondbacks: After a day off Monday, the Diamondbacks hit the road for the first time this season starting with a series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Patrick Corbin (0-1) gets his second start of the season on Tuesday against Kenta Maeda (1-0) in the Dodgers' home opener.