Jake Arrieta was overshadowed by a no-hitter the last time out, and while his next opponent hasn’t quite been on that level, he is enjoying maybe the best starting span of his career.
Jimmy Nelson will try to continue finding his way Thursday night as the visiting Chicago Cubs attempt to figure out the last-place Milwaukee Brewers.
While Nelson is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA in his last six starts, the already established Arrieta has been even better with a 5-1 record and 1.37 ERA in his past seven.
The defeat came in a 5-0 home loss to Philadelphia on Saturday with Cole Hamels throwing a no-hitter while Arrieta (11-6, 2.61 ERA) gave up three runs and had eight strikeouts in six innings. He’s struck out 18 in 13 innings over his last two starts, but that’s come with six walks after yielding four in 39 2-3 innings of his previous five outings.
"I struggled with timing," Arrieta told MLB’s official website. "That was the main issue from start to finish. Toward the end was really the only time I felt like I had consistent command of multiple pitches. I felt like it was a battle. I didn’t pitch near the way I would’ve liked to today."
Arrieta is 2-3 with a 3.22 ERA in six starts against the Brewers, and the best of the bunch was in 2013 in his only one at Miller Park. Ryan Braun (3 for 8), Adam Lind (4 for 13) and Carlos Gomez (3 for 10) have homered off him, but Jonathan Lucroy (2 for 12) and Gerardo Parra (0 for 6) have struggled.
Nelson (8-9, 3.97) hasn’t allowed an earned run in two of his last three starts and has won the past two, including Friday’s 2-1 victory in Arizona. The right-hander gave up five hits in seven scoreless innings and is no longer thinking about the six-start span preceding his recent success that resulted in a 1-4 record and 6.06 ERA.
"Really not letting the stuff before affect me, not trying to do too much, not trying to go out there and paint corners and strike everybody out, just going to my strengths and let the defense do it job," Nelson said.
Nelson’s four starts against the Cubs have resulted in an 0-3 record and 5.25 ERA. Jorge Soler is 5 for 12 with a home run and three doubles, while Kris Bryant is 0 for 6.
The Cubs (53-47) haven’t been providing much offense with 3.0 runs per game and a .222 average over a 14-17 span, but that was enough in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Colorado.
Anthony Rizzo homered for the first time in 18 games, a span during which he’s batting .203. Bryant went 0 for 4 as his average dipped below .250 for the first time since May 10, and he’s hitting .129 in his last 16.
Manager Joe Maddon inserted Kyle Schwarber in left field for a full game for the first time, and while the rookie is 2 for 14 in his last seven games, he has a .400 on-base percentage in that time.
The Brewers (44-58) have won four of six in the season series, but with Wednesday’s 5-0 loss in San Francisco, they’ve fallen into a 1-4 funk with seven runs after winning 15 of their previous 21.
Braun returned from a two-game absence due to lower back tightness and went hitless in four at-bats to drop to 6 for 34 since the All-Star break.
Parra is on a career-best 13-game hitting streak, which could help entice a contender to make a move for the free-agent-to-be before Friday’s trade deadline.