By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Rumors of Jake Arrieta’s slipping stardom is a premature evaluation, at least as far as the Cincinnati Reds are concerned.
Reports that Arrieta isn’t close to what he was two years ago can’t be confirmed by the Reds.
Arrieta, who pitched a no-hitter against the Reds in 2015 en route to the Cy Award, took the Great American Ball Park mound Sunday afternoon with a 7-6 record and 4.67 earned run average.
But he was Naughty Arrietta to the Reds and pitched up to his 2015 credentials and nearly to his no-hitter credentials, holding the Reds to no runs and one hit over seven innings during a 6-2 Chicago Cubs victory.
“Arrieta was good — seven innings of one-hit ball,” said Reds manager Bryan Price after a long, hot afternoon of offensive futility. “He didn’t get in trouble with a lot of bad counts or walks. He didn’t give us much. We only squared up about two balls on the barrel. It was a testament to how good he was today.”
MOST OF THE CHICAGO OFFENSE was furnished by former University of Cincinnati student/athlete Ian Happ — two home runs, a single and four runs batted, the first four of the game.
Happ gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the second after Reds starter Tim Adleman walked Willson Contreras. Happ then drilled a 2-and-2 pitch over the center field wall.
It stayed 2-0 until Happ batted in the fourth and crushed his 12th home run into the right field seats to make it 3-0. Happ’s single in the sixth made it 4-0 and Happ owned all four RBI up to that point.
“Happ had it going today,” said Adleman. “I made a couple of bad pitches to him and he left the yard twice. Other than him it was manageable today. But he got me.”
SAID PRICE OF ADLEMAN’S day — three runs, six hits (three by Happ) over five innings, “They strung together some good at bats against Tim, fouled off some good pitches. I thought he had really good stuff, a good sinker and a really nice breaking ball. They spoiled some very good pitches, they really did.
“Today they were just better by battling through good pitches and seeing more pitches. And Happ had the big day with a couple of homers and four RBI,” Price added. “And so it goes.”
Arrieta mixed and matched all afternoon. He struck out the side in the fourth en route to six strikeouts. He retired the side in the fifth on three ground balls en route to getting 11 ground ball outs.
JOEY VOTTO SINGLED WITH TWO outs in the first inning and that was it as far as hits go against Arrieta. Adam Duvall walked after Votto’s single but Eugenio Suarez grounded out.
Arrietta retired 10 straight after the walk to Duvall until Suarez walked to lead off the fifth. Then he retired the final nine he faced before leaving with 100 pitches, 69 for strikes.
THE REDS SCRAMBLED ONTO the scoreboard in the eighth when Votto pulled a two-out, two-run bases loaded single to right against Koji Uehara. It was Votto’s 1,499th career hit, tying him for 10th on the Reds’ all-time list with Ted Kluszewski.
With two on and two outs, Carl Edwards Jr. came on to strike out Adam Duvall on three swinging pitches — whiff, whiff and WHIFF.
Chicago’s victory prevented the Reds from a three-game sweep and they finished 4-and-2 on the homestand. They play seven games on the road before the All-Star break, four in Colorado beginning Monday and three in Arizona.
“Four out of six wins at home, that works,” said Price. “That should be a mantra for our ball club. But we have to play better on the road. We have 12 wins on the road this year (12-and-26). We have to play way better on the road and make for a better second half.”