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STL@CHC: Arrieta strikes out seven in scoreless start

CHICAGO -- The last time Jake Arrieta pitched for the Cubs, he only needed an overnight suitcase. Now, he can relax and settle in for a longer stay.

Arrieta struck out seven over seven scoreless innings and drove in a run Friday, while Nate Schierholtz knocked in three runs to lift the Cubs to a 7-0 victory over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field and even their season series at 7.

This was Arrieta's second start with the Cubs and 65th in the Major Leagues. Acquired July 2 from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, he had started the second game of a July 30 doubleheader against the Brewers, and gave up one run on two hits over six innings. Before that game, the right-hander said he wasn't going back to the Minor Leagues, but he did, making two more starts for Triple-A Iowa.

"For me, there's no question that this change of scenery and this trade was huge for me and my career, and not only for me, but for the Cubs as well," Arrieta said. "I couldn't be more excited to be here."

The Cubs want to see what Arrieta can do in the final six weeks of the season, promoting him from the Minors and moving Carlos Villanueva into the bullpen. The Orioles' Opening Day starter in 2012, Arrieta gave up an infield single by Carlos Beltran in the second that the pitcher knocked down, and a ground-rule double by Beltran with one out in the seventh, and that was it.

"That's the kind of stuff a power arm can do," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "When you have a 91-mph cutter, slider, whatever you want to call his offspeed pitch, and a curveball, and [the ability to make] some really good pitches in key situations and counts when you thought he might be losing good hitters -- he made great pitches down and away on the black at 95, 96 mph."

Arrieta was happy with his command and ability to mix up his pitches.

"It's just a matter of commanding the ball and limiting my walks," he said. "That's what's gotten me in the past is too many free passes and letting guys get away when I'm in favorable counts. It's pretty much keeping my foot on the gas and staying on the attack and not letting guys back in counts where I clearly have the advantage. I've made a conscious effort to get better at certain things, and it's starting to show."

Jake Westbrook knows that feeling. The Cardinals starter walked the first three Cubs batters in the first, and Schierholtz followed with a two-run single. After Welington Castillo grounded into a double play, Donnie Murphy hit an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

"It's always a confidence-builder when you can come up from day one and help the team out hitting-wise," said Murphy, who is batting .333 in 10 games since getting called up from Iowa.

"He's been our best hitter since he's been here," Sveum said. "The home runs, he's played really good defense, done a great job. Hopefully it continues."

David DeJesus singled to open the fifth and Junior Lake reached on a fielder's choice, although rookie second baseman Kolten Wong didn't appear to touch second base for the force. Lake reached third on Anthony Rizzo's single and scored on Schierholtz's sacrifice fly.

Murphy was hit by a pitch to start the sixth, and one out later, he scored on Darwin Barney's double. Barney reached third on an errant throw home by shortstop Daniel Descalso on the play, and then scored on Arrieta's sacrifice for his second career RBI, and 25th by a Cubs pitcher -- tops in the National League. It was a tough run as Murphy got the wind knocked out of him in a collision with catcher Rob Johnson.

Chicago had runners at second and third with two outs in the seventh when a run scored on a wild pitch by Sam Freeman.

Instead of flying back to Des Moines, Arrieta now can prepare for his next start Wednesday against the Nationals.

"The biggest thing is just being able to get in a routine again and knowing I'll be taking the ball every fifth day for this team," he said. "That's a good feeling. It's something I've envisioned myself doing. Ever since the trade was made, I knew it was a matter of time."

St. Louis, which leads the NL Wild Card standings, may have been a little weary after a tough series against Pittsburgh, which included two extra-inning games, both Cardinals wins. Westbrook was pulled after throwing 124 pitches over 6 2/3 innings.

"That's not what any of us were looking for," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Westbrook's outing. "We've talked about it before. Sometimes he just has trouble finding the release point for the sinker, and he didn't find it today until it was too late."

Arrieta has some family in the St. Louis area -- although he was quick to point out that they are Cubs fans -- so he knows all about the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. Chicago has struggled against NL Central teams, but held its own against St. Louis.

"We've played some of our best baseball against them," Sveum said. "Even in some of the ballgames we've lost, we've played good ball and come up on the short end. We've played these guys really well."

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