Jake Arrieta Throws a No-Hitter, Again

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CINCINNATI, Ohio – Blieve it or not, National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta was more dominant Thursday night than his Cubs offense that slugged five home runs and produced an 18-hit attack.

Highlighting one of the most amazing runs in pitching history, Arrieta pitched his second career no-hitter in leading the Cubs to a 16-0 victory over the Reds under threatening skies at Great American Ball Park.

“That animal was in control,” said catcher David Ross, who hugged Arrieta after right fielder Jason Heyward caught Eugenio Suarez’s fly for the final out.

Arrieta, 30, struck out six and walked four in a 119-pitch masterpiece that lowered his ERA to 0.87 before a crowd of 16,497.

And Arrieta admitted his command wasn’t sharp until the sixth inning.

“I envisioned pitching like this, even when I had a 5.00 (ERA) in Baltimore.” Arrieta said.

With the victory, Arrieta became the first Cubs starting pitcher to win his first four starts in a season since Greg Maddux in 2006. But that feat pales in comparison to Arrieta improving to 15-0 with an 0.53 ERA in his last 16 starts dating back to Aug. 1, 2015.

Included in that stretch was a no-hitter over the Dodgers on Aug. 30.

The Reds went 7,109 regular season games without being no-hit — the longest active streak in the majors. Rick Wise of the Phillies was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against them on June 23, 1971 at Riverfront Stadium.

At the outset, it looked like Arrieta would be challenged to finish his masterpiece. He labored early and needed 63 pitches to get through the first four innings. But a timely defensive play from catcher David Ross was a huge aid as he threw to first base to pick off Suarez, who led off the fourth with a walk.

To end the fourth, third baseman Kris Bryant made an exceptional stop before making a two-hop throw to first, where Anthony Rizzo stretched far to retire Brandon Phillips.

Manager Joe Maddon, sensing history was at stake, inserted Matt Szczur in left field for defensive purposes in the seventh in place of Jorge Soler.

Arrieta’s performance upstaged Bryant’s power surge. Bryant capped a two home run performance with his third career grand slam over the center field fence in the seventh. Bryant, who participated in the All-Star week Home Run Derby here in July, hit a two-run homer in the first that landed in the second deck and traveled an estimated 420 feet.

Bryant’s four hits matched a career high as he raised his batting average to .271 after going 4-for-6.

Bryant highlighted a five-home run performance from the Cubs. Ross, 39, who hit 21 home runs for the Reds in 2006, hit a solo home run to right center in the sixth, and Rizzo followed later in the inning with his second home run in as many games — a three-run blast over the right field fence,

Arrieta also helped his cause with two singles and the first of three walks that preceded Bryant’s slam. Arrieta singled to right in the fourth but rounded first base too wide. Arrieta returned to first safely with a head-first slide, and the throw from pitcher Brandon Finnegan bounced away from first baseman Joey Votto and enabled Ross to score.

Courtesy/Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune