Arrieta wins 19th straight decision as Cubs beat Giants 8-1

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Even one of baseball’s hottest team’s couldn’t slow down Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta gave up four hits and one walk while striking out eight in seven innings to win his 19th consecutive decision as the Chicago Cubs beat San Francisco 8-1 Friday night, snapping the Giants’ eight-game winning streak.

“It was a battle for me,” said Arrieta, who leads the majors with a 1.29 ERA. “I wasn’t crisp until the third or fourth inning . Those guys are tough, top to bottom and they make you work. I had to adjust on the fly a little bit. I brought my B stuff and had to sequence differently.”

The Cubs have won Arrieta’s last 22 starts going back to last season, with their ace going 19-0 in that stretch. Chicago also won on the road for the 24th time in 29 games.

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward left the game in the bottom of the first inning after crashing into the left field wall on a diving catch. He chased a shot over his head off the bat of Denard Span, robbing the Giants’ leadoff man of extra bases on the third pitch he saw from Arrieta (8-0).

“The first hitter of the game, something like that, I’m at a loss for words,” Arrieta said of Heyward’s catch in the deepest part of the stadium.

“That’s an amazing catch. What he’s capable with the glove in the outfield, it’s amazing. I think he’ll be just fine. A little sore, but I hope he’s back as soon as possible.

Heyward is under evaluation for an injury to his right torso abdominal region, the Cubs said.

“He’ll get an MRI in the morning,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We don’t know anything yet. That might have been the game right there. He threw caution to the wind. That could have been an inside the park home run and they have a different mentality.”

Arrieta retired 13 of the last 16 batters he faced after allowing Joe Panik‘s two-out run-scoring single in the bottom of the third – just the second run Arrieta has allowed through the first three innings this season.

“That’s what he’s been doing,” Maddon said. “Makes pitches when he has to. His stuff is so good, even without his good command, he can be productive.”

The Cubs also got production from Kris Bryant, who was 2 for 5 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer to left off Jake Peavy (1-5) that highlighted a five-run outburst in the top of the second inning.

After Bryant’s homer, Anthony Rizzo chased Peavy with a single to right that snapped his streak of 13 consecutive hitless at-bats.

Peavy allowed five runs and seven hits and two walks after 1 2/3 innings. He threw 55 pitches.

MAKING A SPLASH

Ben Zobrist homered into McCovey Cove for his sixth homer, becoming just the 38th opposing player and the second Cubs player (Corey Patterson is the other) to reach San Francisco Bay’s waters with a “splash hit.” Zobrist’s homer extended his hitting streak to seven games and his on-base streak in games in which he’s started to 26.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: OF Matt Szczur, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, began a rehab assignment on Thursday with double-A Tennessee, going 1 for 2 with a walk, a run and a strikeout. Friday’s Smokies’ game was rained out. Szczur was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.

Giants: RHP Sergio Romo, out since April 15 with a strained right hip flexor, threw 24 pitches in an extended spring training game on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Romo will start a rehab assignment at triple-A Sacramento on Saturday is expected to be activated within two weeks.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (4-2) has allowed one or fewer runs in six of eight starts. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning his last time out against Pittsburgh (a 2-1 Pirates victory in which he was tagged with the loss). Lester is 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA against the Giants.

Giants: RHP Matt Cain (0-5) has a 1.80 ERA with 13 strikeouts and two walks over his last two starts. In his previous six starts he was 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA. Cain is 6-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 17 games against the Cubs.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.