CHICAGO – Jake Arrieta tried to tamper his pregame butterflies.
Making his big league season debut after shoulder stiffness, Arrieta struck out seven in 51/3 shutout innings Saturday as the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, for their first three-game winning streak this season.
Arrieta said pitching at Wrigley Field has become a special experience for him dating to his Cubs debut last season, also was against the Cardinals.
Arrieta walked two and threw 82 pitches. The Cardinals put five runners on base through the first three innings.
“Command of my sinker down in the zone was working really good, establishing the curveball early in the game,” he said. “The more you do that with secondary stuff, the less they can eliminate certain pitches later in the game. That’s kind of what we had going for us.”
The Cubs bullpen combined for three-hit relief, finishing a seven-hitter. Brian Schlitter (1-0) got two outs for the win, and Hector Rondon worked around a pair of leadoff singles in the ninth for his third save.
Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo homered for the Cubs, who hadn’t won three straight a series sweep at San Francisco last July 26 through 28.
A day after the Cubs defeated Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha (2-3) allowed two runs, five hits and three walks in six innings.
Lake hit a two-run homer in the sixth for a 2-0 lead. He also doubled on a 3-for-3 afternoon.
“It’s just frustrating, really,” Wacha said. “I served one up there, and they go up two runs. You just can’t afford that in that situation.”
Rizzo led off the eighth with sixth home run, and third in three games. He connected on the first pitch he saw from Randy Choate.
“We know we’re a good team,” Rizzo said. “It’s just about getting the wins. Today we got the win. The last few days we’ve gotten a win. It’s just about staying with it, keep battling.”
Yadier Molina and Jhonny Peralta opened the ninth with singles off Rondon. But he got Jon Jay to hit into a double play and struck out Mark Ellis.
St. Louis, which stranded eight runners, has scored two runs or fewer in seven of its last 13 games.
Arrieta struck out Molina to strand runners on the corners in first. The Cardinals put two on with no outs in the second before Greg Garcia struck out, Wacha grounded out and shortstop Starlin Castro made an over-the-shoulder catch on Matt Carpenter’s popup.
“Right now, it’s not looking like what we want it to look like,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “Whatever we’re doing is not working, so we have to figure it out and figure it out fast.”
Notes: Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (shoulder) was scheduled to make a minor league injury rehabilitation start Saturday at Double A-Springfield. ... With the Cardinals struggling offensively, Matheny has tried several lineup combinations. That’s left some players – especially OF Peter Bourjos and 2B Mark Ellis – frustrated because of unpredictable playing time. “The message we continue to give them is: keep pushing,’” Matheny said. “We need each of you guys to be at the top of your game in order to be as good as we can be and you’re gonna get your opportunity.”