CHICAGO – Even when he allows a few hits, Jake Arrieta might be baseball's most dominant pitcher now.
Arrieta pitched eight innings of four-hit ball for his major league-best 18th win, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 on Saturday.
Arrieta struck out seven in his first start since throwing his first career no-hitter against the Dodgers last Sunday. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the righthander, who has allowed just two earned runs in 50⅓ innings during his win streak.
Arrieta (18-6) allowed two hits in the first inning, but struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the inning. Hector Rondon yielded two hits in the ninth before finishing for his 26th save in 30 chances.
Just where does Arrieta rank?
"It's as good as you're going to get on a major league level," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The quality of pitches, the durability, the guy that absolutely takes care of himself.
"I know there are other really good pitchers in this league, we just faced some of them, but he's right with them."
Against Arizona, Arrieta added new wrinkles that made him more effective as the game went on.
"I started to mix some things up a little differently," Arrieta said. "I used some different sequences. I used the changeup quite a bit."
Arizona wasted a solid start by Robbie Ray in its third consecutive loss. 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.
Ray allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, but dropped to 0-7 since his last victory on July 7.
"Robbie did a good job of keeping us there," Arizona manager Chip Hale said.