MIAMI (AP) — Jake Arrieta made it look easy, then made it sound easy.
The Chicago Cubs right-hander had a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings to beat the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Wednesday.
Arrieta (3-1) lowered his ERA to 1.98, and he has 55 strikeouts in 50 innings.
“I’m not doing anything different,” he said. “I’m just commanding everything down in the strike zone and trying to force early contact. Strikeouts are just a byproduct of throwing several plus pitches for strikes.”
Arrieta has become one of the few bright spots for the last-place Cubs, although they have been playing better lately. By taking the rubber game of the three-game set, they won consecutive road series for the first time since June 2013.
Chicago went 5-5 on a three-city swing.
“We had a nice trip,” manager Rick Renteria said. “That’s big. We’re playing some consistent baseball.”
Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton hit his NL-leading 20th homer in the first but left the game after six innings with a bruised left wrist. Stanton said the injury wasn’t serious, and he expected to be back in the lineup Thursday against the New York Mets.
But his wrist was swollen and bothered him more as the game progressed.
“It was getting tighter and tighter,” he said. “On swings and misses, it hurts a lot.”
Stanton hasn’t missed a game this season, and he leads the NL in homers and RBIs with 57. That’s why manager Mike Redmond took no chances with the injury.
“We need this guy for the long haul,” Redmond said. “He wanted to stay in, but I’m thinking about tomorrow and the next day.”
Stanton was hurt when he hit the wall in the first inning chasing a flyball.
Nate Schierholtz hit a three-run homer for the Cubs. Starlin Castro had two RBI doubles and single batting cleanup.
“I like batting fourth because there are usually runners on base,” Castro said. “I just like that they put me in a spot and leave me there. If they keep moving me around, it breaks my concentration.”
Arrieta allowed five hits and one walk. He also doubled for his first career extra-base hit, but Renteria was more impressed with his pitching.
Arrieta has 27 strikeouts in 20 innings over his past three starts.
“I think he is commanding his fastball better, and his breaking ball is starting to get some bite and location,” Renteria said. “He’s got great stuff, and he’s very composed.”
The Marlins agreed.
“He was using his cutter in good spots and staying on the corners,” Stanton said. “He did a good job.”
Schierholtz was in a 3-for-26 slump before he hit his third homer off Nathan Eovaldi (4-3) in the Cubs’ four-run sixth. Eovaldi, back from paternity leave after joining his wife in Texas for the birth of their first child Monday, declined to blame any distractions for his performance.
“You’ve got to be able to come back and perform,” he said. “If anything, I was excited to get back to the guys and play.”
NOTES: The Marlins plan to recall RHP Kevin Gregg from Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday, and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (concussion) will be activated from the disabled list. To make room for them, the Marlins optioned LHP Dan Jennings to New Orleans and optioned C J.T. Realmuto to Double-A Jacksonville. ... Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat next to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in the second row and drew a big ovation when he was shown on the video scoreboard. ... LHP Randy Wolf, who was designed for assignment Monday by the Marlins, opted for free agency. ... A Marlins promotion for disadvantaged children boosted attendance to 27,032. ... Marlins RHP Steve Cishek turned 28 Wednesday. Cubs OF Chris Coghlan turned 29. ... Cubs starters have allowed 32 homers, fewest in the majors. ... When torrential rain with wind gusts of up to 53 mph hit during Tuesday’s game, the Marlins’ retractable roof leaked in six or seven places, which was to be expected given the severity of the storm, team president David Samson said. ... Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney makes his major-league debut Thursday against the New York Mets and RHP Zack Wheeler (2-7, 4.38). ... The Cubs open a series at home Friday when Edwin Jackson (4-7, 5.11) pitches against Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (4-7, 3.09).