Arrieta goes 8 innings, Cubs beat A's 4-0; Gray injured
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta isn't quite satisfied he's recovered his dominant stuff after a pedestrian July.
He didn't look far off Saturday. Arrieta pitched eight innings of three-hit ball to get his first victory in over a month and the Chicago Cubs beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0.
''Really close,'' Arrieta said when asked if he's back to full strength.
Arrieta (13-5) was 0-3 in his previous five starts and 1-4 since ending a 20-decision winning streak on June 22. He struck out four and walked one on 108 pitches.
''Emphasis (is) on sinking the ball down, middle down in the strike zone and forcing action early on,'' Arrieta said. ''Not worrying about strikeouts. Those will come in big situations. Maybe guy on third, a guy on second base, no outs, less than two, punchouts are more important. I'm trying to get through the middle innings.''
The NL Central-leading Cubs have won five straight and 16 of 22, and they moved a season-best 27 games over .500 for a second time this season. They gave the A's their seventh loss in eight games.
Ben Zobrist's two-out two-run single off former A's teammate Sonny Gray broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third.
''I'm watching them out there from the very first pitch ... they're engaged, they're present-tense, ready to go,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''The guys are very confident right now, and the pitching permits this all to happen. You can't get hot without good pitching and our starters have been fantastic.''
''We're firing on all cylinders right now,'' Arrieta said. ''Does that mean we won't lose three in a row? Who knows? It doesn't matter to us. We want to come out tomorrow and keep the momentum on our side.''
Gray (5-11) left after five innings with soreness in the extensor muscle in his right forearm. He allowed two runs on five hits.
He first felt the injury after striking out Dexter Fowler with a curveball in the top of the fourth.
''I was trying to go back out there for the sixth,'' Gray said. ''I told them after the fourth I had a little bit of an issue come up and when I went back out for the fifth it kind of felt the same.
''They kind of decided to shut it down there. I lobbied to go back out there. It obviously wasn't going to happen.''
The injury is the latest setback in a disastrous season for the 26-year-old right-hander, who's already been on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Gray, a 2015 All-Star who last season finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, had the highest ERA in the majors (5.84) going into Saturday.
Zobrist and Addison Russell had two hits each for the Cubs.
The A's sent LHP Dillon Overton to Triple-A Nashville and called up LHP Patrick Schuster. Overton had a 10.97 ERA and allowed 11 homers in five starts. Schuster was 1-0 with a 1.16 ERA and seven saves in 32 appearances (all in relief) at Nashville.
The A's commemorated the early 1980s ''Billy-Ball'' era with former players Rick Langford, Mike Heath, Dwayne Murphy, Mike Norris and Mike Davis attending a pregame ceremony and Billy Martin Jr. throwing the first pitch. Former broadcaster Roy Steele and professional cheerleader ''Krazy'' George also attended. The A's wore vintage gold jerseys and the Cubs sported powder blue from the same era.
Cubs: RHP John Lackey will take RHP Jason Hammel's next turn in the rotation on Tuesday. Hammel, who's been on the bereavement list since Aug. 5, will make his next start on Wednesday.
Athletics: RHP Henderson Alvarez, sidelined since spring training recovering from shoulder surgery last summer, has started plyometric workouts ahead of a throwing program after a recent doctor's appointment cleared him. ... LHP Sean Doolittle threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. He's been on the disabled list with a shoulder strain since June 26.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks has a 1.04 ERA over his last nine outings, including eight starts, since June 19. He threw 123 pitches in his last start, a shutout against Miami. Hendricks has never faced the Athletics.
Athletics: Rookie LHP Sean Manaea is 1-2 with a 3.14 ERA in his last seven outings, including six starts, since coming off the disabled list June 29 with a forearm strain. Manaea is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two interleague starts.