The Chicago Cubs won again behind a superlative performance from ace Jake Arrieta their last time out. Kyle Hendricks hasn't been anywhere near as good lately, but his starts have generally resulted in victories for his team since the end of July.
That wasn't the case in Hendricks' past two outings, however, and he'll look to end that trend and his four-start winless streak as the right-hander opposes Rubby De La Rosa and the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Arrieta continued his spectacular pitching Saturday, following up a no-hitter with eight innings of four-hit ball in a 2-0 victory, his major league-best 18th. Arrieta also struck out seven to win his seventh consecutive start.
The victory was the second straight and fourth in six games for Chicago (77-57), which appears to be in full control of the second wild-card berth and is pushing Pittsburgh for the top one.
Manager Joe Maddon wants the Cubs to "live in the moment" and not get caught up watching the standings. "A bunch of one-game winning streaks would be kind of nice right now," he said.
The Cubs have won 16 of 20 at Wrigley Field to give them a 42-28 record there after winning 41 home games last season.
Arrieta starts have amounted to guaranteed wins for his team over the past month, and that was also the case in five consecutive Hendricks outings from July 27-Aug. 21 - a stretch in which he posted a 5.61 ERA but saw the Cubs win each time by scoring 32 runs.
That formula proved unsustainable in Hendricks' past two games, as he gave up seven runs in 11 innings of Chicago defeats Aug. 26 and Monday.
Maddon said Hendricks (6-6, 4.15 ERA) had "good stuff" his last time out in a 13-6 home loss to Cincinnati, as he gave up three earned runs in five innings, scattering five hits while walking three and striking out four. Hendricks, though, hasn't lasted more than six innings in the past four starts, walking three in three of those and recording a 6.98 ERA in that span.
Hendricks, who's issued 19 bases on balls over his previous eight, has never faced Arizona.
Anthony Rizzo went 1 for 4 on Saturday, a day after hitting a grand slam, and is 5 for his last 11. He's batted .343 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his past nine games against Arizona.
The Diamondbacks (65-71) lost their third straight Saturday, but De La Rosa (12-6, 4.46) appears to give them a good chance to avoid a third consecutive loss in the season series and fourth in six meetings this year. The right-hander has gone 6-1 with a 3.32 ERA in his last nine outings.
De La Rosa, though, faced the Cubs for the first time May 23 and gave up four runs in six innings of a 9-6 home loss. Rizzo's three-run homer in the ninth off Enrique Burgos broke a tie and gave him a career high-tying six RBIs in the game.
Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt had two hits in his return to the lineup after missing two games to be with his wife, Amy, in Phoenix as she gave birth to their first child. Goldschmidt, a .388 hitter with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 23 career games against Chicago, has batted .439 in the series since the start of last season.
" ... the bullpen did a really good job of holding them down," Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said after Saturday's game. "It's a step in the right direction."
Dexter Fowler is 3 for 8 with two walks against De La Rosa.