Unable to build off previous strong start, Jake Arrieta falters

After his performance last Sunday, when he allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings in a win over the Reds, Jake Arrieta was looking to string together consecutive solid outings and establish some momentum and consistency before the All-Star break.

He didn’t quite get it done.

Arrieta went 5⅔ innings, allowing four runs and six hits while striking out three, walking two and hitting two. Gregory Polanco touched him for a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth, and the Pirates went on to win 4-2.

“I thought Jake was doing really well right up to that point,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Jake Arrieta throws during Saturday's game. | Getty Images

Arrieta finished the first half of the season 8-7 with a 4.35 ERA. He said it was below average for both him and the team.

“Whatever the numbers are, it is what it is, but moving forward I’d like to just be a little bit more consistent with innings for the team,” Arrieta said. “Conserve our bullpen because we’re going to need those guys in August and September.

“I’m going to reevaluate some things and focus on what I need to get better at for the team.”

Positive Happ-enings

Rookie center fielder Ian Happ, who batted fourth in the lineup for the 11th time, hit his 13th homer in the fourth inning. Maddon has been impressed with Happ’s athleticism, versatility, fielding and ability to recover from slumps.

“He’s a better baseball player than I had envisioned coming into this thing,” Maddon said. “I thought he was more of a bat. I think that’s how he was advertised coming up, but he’s a really skillful player and he does a lot of things well.”

Happ seems to be taking everything in stride, including his spot in the order.

“I’m doing anything I can to help the team,” Happ said, “and if that’s hitting in the middle of the lineup, fantastic.”

The other Kyle

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks will make a rehab start Monday at Class AA Tennessee. Hendricks has been out since June 5 with tendinitis in his right hand but could return to the rotation soon.

“Once we get that done and accomplished and he’s well, we’ll be able then to try to figure out the post All-Star break rotation stuff,” Maddon said.

Hendricks is 4-3 with a 4.09 ERA.

All-Star strategy

Maddon, who will manage the National League All-Star team, said he’s thinking about having a reliever pitch an inning between starters. He wants to allow the starters more time to warm up. And though the outcome of the game doesn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series anymore, Maddon said it’s still important to get the win. So if the game is close, he’ll hold a pitcher back for extra innings.

This and that

Maddon said left-hander Mike Montgomery, who lasted only 2⅓ innings in his start Thursday, will be available out of the bullpen Sunday.

Catcher Victor Caratini, who was called up June 28, was named the Cubs’ minor-league player of the month after hitting .345 at Class AAA Iowa. Right-hander Thomas Hatch was named minor-league pitcher of the month after going 3-2 with a 0.98 ERA at Class A Myrtle Beach.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

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