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Cubs cruise over Brewers behind Arrieta

April 28, 2016

CHICAGO -- Johnny Vander Meer's record is safe. Jake Arrieta did not throw another no-hitter and his scoreless-innings streak at home ended, but the right-hander did get the win in the Cubs' 7-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field."All I can say is he's human," catcher David

CHICAGO -- Johnny Vander Meer's record is safe. Jake Arrieta did not throw another no-hitter and his scoreless-innings streak at home ended, but the right-hander did get the win in the Cubs' 7-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
"All I can say is he's human," catcher David Ross said of Arrieta, who is the first Cubs pitcher to go 5-0 in his first five starts since Greg Maddux in 2006.
Arrieta, Bryant, Maddon earn Esurance Awards
Ross hit a solo home run, Ben Zobrist smacked a two-run single and Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella each hit RBI doubles for the Cubs, now 16-5 and off to their best start since going 17-4 in 1907.
Brewers leadoff man Jonathan Villar spoiled any no-no drama by hitting a 2-2 slider from Arrieta to left field for a broken bat single to lead off the game. Vander Meer is the only Major League pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters, doing so in June 1938. Arrieta (5-0, 1.00 ERA) shut down the Reds on April 21 in his second career no-no, and was pitching on extra rest because of an off-day and a rainout.
"They were patient early to either get my pitch count up or make me come into their zone," Arrieta said of the Brewers. "It wasn't sharp, but we got the job done."
Villar scored on Alex Presley's double in the fifth to end Arrieta's home shutout streak at 52 2/3 innings, second longest ever in the regular season in the Major Leagues. The White Sox Ray Herbert threw 54 straight scoreless innings at Comiskey Park, spanning 1962-63.
"You can't expect a guy to be perfect every time," manager Joe Maddon said of Arrieta.

First things first: The Brewers loaded the bases against Arrieta in the first, but the right-hander escaped without giving up a run. Milwaukee starter Taylor Jungmann wasn't as fortunate in the home half. Dexter Fowler singled, and one out later, Jungmann hit Kris Bryant with a pitch before walking Rizzo to load the bases and set up Zobrist's two-run single. Zobrist had fouled a ball toward the Cubs' dugout that Aaron Hill chased but couldn't secure while leaning over the railing of the dugout.
"We force guys to throw strikes, and that's the sign of a good ballclub that has confidence in its ability," Ross said.

Villar stars: Villar reached base three times against Arrieta with two singles and a walk. Villar was in the leadoff spot for the second time this season and set the tone well, stealing second after both of his base hits and scoring the Brewers' lone run while tallying three thefts. Villar also doubled in the ninth.
"He threw a no-hitter, so I knew I had to be ready for every pitch," Villar said. "My concentration had to be at home plate every pitch." More >

Backstop: With Miguel Montero going on the disabled list with lower back stiffness, Ross will be a little busier than the normal backup catcher. Ross' hitting has justified it. He launched his second homer of the season and No. 98 of his career leading off the second, sending a 3-2 pitch from Jungmann onto Waveland Avenue behind the left-field bleachers. This is Ross' last season, and his goal is to reach 100 homers before he retires.
"Two more," Ross said. "I'm trying not to think about it. I'm a lot happier with my approach this year and feel so much better in the box. At least I'm contributing and working at-bats and making guys throw more than three pitches to get me out. [My teammates] pride themselves in going out there and being tough outs, I just want to be in the mix."

Damage control: Jungmann walked Jason Heyward and Rizzo and hit Bryant to load the bases before he left the game in the fourth inning. Jungmann finished with five earned runs and six hits surrendered in his 3 2/3 frames. He is 0-4 with a 9.15 season ERA -- and his numbers could have been worse if not for Chris Capuano getting Zobrist to fly out and strand the bases loaded. Jungmann walked three, and the Brewers' staff combined for a season-high 11 walks. Jungmann is 0-7 with a 9.35 ERA in his past nine starts.
"I would say 'searching' is an accurate word," Jungmann said. "On the mound, when I'm struggling, I tend to search rather than just compete, and I think I still haven't got past that."
"We got to play clean games to win. … We didn't play well today. You add in there going up against a pitcher like Arrieta, it's not going to go well. You have to be pretty perfect to beat those guys, those top-of-the-rotation guys. You've got to be perfect. Not perfect, but do good things in all areas of the game."
-- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, on his team's walks and two errors
"I haven't seen him change a bit. I think he really handles those particular moments when he's confronted really well because he's very matter of fact, he's very self-confident, he knows who he is. So when he answers the questions, he answers them in a genuine manner and feels really good about himself. Wouldn't we all like to be like that? It's a pretty good way to live, and I think he's got it down. I'm all about Jake, we all are. I support everything he does and says. I think he handles all those moments really well."
-- Maddon, on Arrieta, who has had to deal with accusations of PED use
Rizzo notched his 23rd RBI when he hit a run-scoring double in the third. It's the most RBIs by a Cubs player in April since Derrek Lee drove in 28 in 2008. Rizzo also has eight home runs this month; only Alfonso Soriano has hit more, with 10 in April 2011.

Arrieta was pulled after five innings and his streak of consecutive quality starts ended at 24. That's the second-longest stretch since Bob Gibson established the MLB record when he threw 26 straight quality starts from September 1967 to July 1968.

Bryant underwent a precautionary MRI on his right ankle after the game. He suffered a mild sprain after rolling his ankle while running the bases in the third inning. Bryant also was hit by a pitch twice -- getting plunked on the left elbow in the first and again on the left leg in the fourth. He singled in the third. Maddon wasn't sure if Bryant would be sidelined.
"I don't want to create conjecture," Maddon said. "Let's just see what happens and look at the tests." More >

Brewers:Zach Davies (0-2, 9.72 ERA) starts for the Brewers to open a three-game series against the Marlins on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Davies went seven innings and surrendered one run and four hits in his only career outing against Miami.
Cubs:Jon Lester will open a three-game series against the Braves on Friday at Wrigley Field. Lester is searching for his first win at home this season. First pitch will be 1:20 CT.
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for and covered the Brewers on Thursday