CHICAGO – Jake Arrieta retired his first 18 batters and struck out nine in seven impressive innings, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Arrieta (4-1) was working on a perfect game before rookie Billy Hamilton started the seventh with a single up the middle. The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits while improving to 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five June starts.
Anthony Rizzo belted a solo homer for the second straight night for the Cubs, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Welington Castillo drove in two runs, including a sacrifice fly in Chicago's three-run eighth.
Devin Mesoraco homered for the fifth straight game for Cincinnati, matching a franchise record. Mesoraco's 14th homer came with one out in the ninth against Neil Ramirez.
Arrieta received a warm ovation from the crowd of 28,226 after Hamilton's hit in the seventh. He retired the next two batters before Mesoraco singled to drive in Hamilton and Jay Bruce added an RBI double that cut Chicago's lead to two.
Arrieta struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the inning, completing his masterful night against one of the majors' hottest lineups. Cincinnati had won three straight and nine of 12, averaging 6.7 runs and 10.2 hits per game in that stretch.
The Cubs used four relievers to get through the eighth, and Ramirez finished Chicago's 12th win in 42 games against Cincinnati over the last three seasons.
The Reds had runners at first and second in the eighth when third baseman Mike Olt made a nice diving stop on Todd Frazier's grounder for the final out of the inning.
The start of the game was delayed 53 minutes by rain, but the pitchers adjusted quite nicely to the delay.
Homer Bailey (7-4) retired his first 11 batters, striking out five. But Rizzo drove the first pitch he saw in the fourth inning into the basket in right-center for the first of his three hits and his 17th homer this season.
Castillo added a run-scoring double in the fifth, and the Cubs chased Bailey while scoring two more in the sixth.
Arrieta helped himself with a leadoff walk and trotted home after Bailey hit Starlin Castro with the bases loaded. J.J. Hoover came in and Nate Schierholtz hit a sacrifice fly, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead.
Bailey allowed four hits, struck out six and walked two in his first loss at Wrigley Field since he pitched 5 1-3 innings in his first career appearance at the cozy neighborhood ballpark on Sept. 13, 2009. The right-hander began the day with a 5-1 record and a 2.56 ERA in seven road starts against the Cubs.
The Reds played without second baseman Brandon Phillips for the second straight day. Phillips bruised his right heel on a backswing during Sunday's 4-3 victory over Toronto.
NOTES: Hamilton extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. ... Cubs OF Emilio Bonifacio (rib injury) is working out, but has yet to resume baseball activities. "He's improving," manager Rick Renteria said. ... Reds LHP Sean Marshall had season-ending shoulder surgery. The 31-year-old reliever had no record and a 7.71 ERA in 15 appearances this season. ... Reds RHP Mat Latos (0-0, 3.86 ERA) and Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (5-7, 5.12 ERA) pitch in the series finale Wednesday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap