Jake Arrieta leaves Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Nats in the fifth inning and with questions about what direction his season goes from here.

Max Scherzer vs. Jake Arrieta? No comparison on this night

SHARE Max Scherzer vs. Jake Arrieta? No comparison on this night
SHARE Max Scherzer vs. Jake Arrieta? No comparison on this night

WASHINGTON — Maybe the Cubs are going to have to do it this year without Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta, who didn’t get out of the fifth inning in a 6-1 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night, said he -believes he’ll get back to the form that has been a key to turning the Cubs into a major-league force the last two years.

But for now he’s coming off a six-walk start in which the Nationals stole a club-record seven bases against him. His ERA is up to 4.67 at the halfway mark in his season.

And he’s winless in five starts against the best four teams he has faced: Boston, Colorado (twice), the Dodgers and the Nationals. He has allowed 27 runs in 26 „ innings in those starts and pitched more than 4 „ innings in only one of them.

“Not where I want to be, obviously,” said Arrieta, who quickly gave back a 1-0 lead in the first against the top starter he has faced this year, Max Scherzer. “But try and move forward and just be better. My last start [a seven-inning victory in Miami] was more indicative of the way I’d like to throw as far as commanding the strike zone and forcing contact early in the count. They made it tough on me tonight.”

So did the six walks. “There’s no excuse,” he said.

And so did Nats leadoff man Trea Turner, who turned a leadoff single in the first and walk in the third into six bases with four steals — and scored each time.

The stolen bases proved to be contentious when catcher Miguel Montero fumed after the game about Arrieta’s inability to hold runners.

Arrieta, who had statistically the best 20-game finish in major-league history in 2015 and who won two road games in last year’s World Series, said he’s confident he can -return to that kind of form this year.

“No question about it,” he said.

But as he continued an up-and-down trend toward this year’s free agency, the comparisons to Scherzer that their agent, Scott Boras, keeps making seem to be fading.

Less than a month ago, Boras compared Arrieta’s season to Scherzer’s walk year of 2014 and said, “Jake is throwing at frankly better levels than what Scherzer did,” Boras said the last week of May.

Scherzer, who actually performed better most of that season, signed a then-record, seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals that offseason. On Tuesday, Arrieta faced Scherzer for the second time in his career. Scherzer, who allowed just two hits and the two-out run in the first in six innings, also beat Arrieta and the Orioles in their first meeting four years ago this month.

“I can pitch at his level,” Arrieta said. “I just haven’t done it consistently. He’s been very good, obviously, throughout his career. It’s been up and down [for me]. I’ve had a couple good ones, a bad one, a couple good ones, a bad one.

“I’d like to be more consistent throughout. I just haven’t been able to do that the way I would like. But I’ll beat myself up tonight and put in some work and be better next time.”

The blister problem that shortened two of Arrieta’s last three outings was not a problem Tuesday.

“Overall, they didn’t bludgeon him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It was just a non Cub-like game on the infield today that led to that. They took advantage of the running game and they took advantage of some mistakes we made.”

The Cubs fell back to just one game over .500 with the loss, staying one game behind first-place -Milwaukee, which also lost, in the NL Central.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.



Montero blames Arrieta for the seven steals.

Rizzo might be leading off for a while.

<em>Nationals ace Max Scherzer held the young Cub lineup to just 2 hits in 6 innings.</em>

Nationals ace Max Scherzer held the young Cub lineup to just 2 hits in 6 innings.

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