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Arrieta’s winning streak ends at 20 games in Cubs’ 3-2 loss

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta manages to make history with every outing, but Sunday it was for a loss.

Arrieta, who had won a franchise-record 20 consecutive decisions, turned in his usual remarkable performance in a 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. That made it, as he put it, “a strange day.”

“They made me show I had the ability to get in the strike zone early with the intent to get in some hitter-friendly counts,” Arrieta said.

He showed the Diamondbacks he could hit the zone, striking out a season-high 12 in five innings. He was one short of his career high, set Sept. 16, 2014, against the Reds.

Jake Arrieta pitches in the first inning against the Diamondbacks on Sunday at Wrigley Field. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

But it led to an elevated pitch count, a shortened start and his first regular-season loss since July 25, 2015, when Phillies starter Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs.

“It was a good run over the course of half a season last year and a pretty good stretch this year,” said Arrieta, who along the way threw two no-hitters and saw his team tie a franchise record with 23 consecutive wins in games he started. “We’ll get something new started.”

The start of the game laid the groundwork for the strangeness that followed. Arrieta had two strikes on leadoff man Michael Bourn, but the center fielder made him throw 10 pitches before striking out.

“That set the tone,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Jake had great stuff. He was electric, but give them credit. They worked good at-bats, and he still had 12 punchouts.”

Relievers Trevor Cahill and Travis Wood combined for six more. The 18 in total was the most for the Cubs in a nine-inning game since Aug. 26, 1998, at Cincinnati (Kerry Wood 16, Rod Beck 2).

“They did a tremendous job, but when you strike out a lot of guys, it means you throw a lot of pitches,’’ catcher Miguel Montero said.

Arrieta (9-1) allowed a season-high nine hits, eight of them singles. Through five innings, he had thrown 108 pitches.

But he also drove in the Cubs’ first run with an RBI double in the second, cutting their deficit to 2-1.

His teammates managed only four other hits off Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin (3-5), who induced a right-handed-heavy lineup to hit grounders to third baseman Jake Lamb nine times. Javy Baez hit his fourth homer of the season in the sixth.

“He’s been amazing,” Montero said of Arrieta, one of only five starting pitchers since 1900 and the first Cub to record 12 strikeouts in an outing of five innings or fewer. “What can I say? It’s hard to describe [the streak]. Obviously, Jake is human, too.’’

Arrieta’s streak almost ended in his last outing Tuesday against the Dodgers when he left after seven scoreless innings. He got a no-decision in the 5-0 loss. Arrieta is winless in his last two starts for the first time since July, as well.

The loss Sunday also ended the Cubs’ four-game winning streak and concluded an 8-2 homestand.

“I’m not upset,” Maddon said. “I like the fact we’re upset at losing, but an 8-2 homestand? I’ll take that all season.”

So would Arrieta, who was thinking about his team, not himself.

“To lose a one-run game with a chance to sweep is tough, but we’re playing really well,” he said. “We have a stretch ahead of us on the road with the ability to put quite a few more wins together, then come back and have some fun again at Wrigley.”

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.