Jake Arrieta's first outing in a Cubs' uniform in four years was a good one as he tossed six innings and gave up one run on six hits during a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Chicago.
Arrieta will be on the mound again on Thursday when the Cubs face their National League Central rivalsin Pittsburgh for the start of a three-game, four-day series.
Arrieta struck out five and walked one on 84 pitches in his first start in Chicago for the home team since Aug. 29, 2017, when he also beat the Pirates during an impressive six-inning performance.
"Even before the first pitch, they were ready to get after it," Arrieta said after the start. "It's just like I remembered it. A little jittery to start, but a great day nonetheless."
Arrieta pitched for the Cubs from 2013-17 and re-signed with Chicago as a free agent in February after three seasons with the Phillies. In Philadelphia, he compiled a 22-23 record and a 4.36 ERA in 64 starts.
After Saturday's victory, the 35-year-old right-hander and former Cy Young winner is 69-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 129 starts for the Cubs from 2013-17.
Arrieta has been a welcome addition to a re-tooled rotation which also has a couple of other new members, Trevor Williams and Zach Davies.
The trio combined to go 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in their season-opening starts and the Cubs' only victories this season. The Cubs have been carried by their pitching so far with their lineup hitting only .124 through the first six games of the season.
"We've got a long season to go, but it's nice and refreshing to watch the new guys perform and do all the things we expected them to be able to do," Cubs manager David Ross said.
Arrieta is 13-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 24 career starts (147 1/3 innings) against the Pirates.
On Thursday, he will oppose the same pitcher he beat in his first start when he faces Pittsburgh left-hander Tyler Anderson, who will try to help the Pirates snap a five-game losing streak.
Anderson struck out seven in five innings, but walked two and gave up three runs on five hits including a solo home run to Kris Bryant.
"Obviously room for improvement there," Anderson said. "I thought for the most part (my) command was OK except for walks. Just not a good job of getting myself in a situation with runners on a lot ... and that's not a good recipe for success."
Anderson was mostly effective though as he got 22 swings and misses and allowed one of those other two runs on a single by Jake Marisnick on a drawn-in infield.
"I thought he did a good job," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said after the game. "He used his curveball effectively when he did use it. It was a good outing for him."
The Pirates will be playing in front of fans for the first time since 2019 when the 31-year-old Anderson, who signed a one-year deal in February, takes the mound. Anderson is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs with 30 strikeouts and six walks.
The Pirates are averaging 2.4 runs scored and allowing 7.8 runs during their recent skid.
Colin Moran has been one of the few offensive bright spots, going 6-for-21 with two home runs and three RBIs.
--Field Level Media