SAN FRANCISCO — As his teammates went crazy celebrating, Javier Baez needed a couple of minutes just to catch his breath after running like mad around the bases.
Baez hit an inside-the-park homer to back Jake Arrieta’s 11th win and Chicago beat the Giants 5-3 on Monday night in the champion Cubs’ first visit to AT&T Park since rallying to eliminate San Francisco in Game 4 of the NL Division Series last October.
“Little League, I guess,” a grinning Baez said about the only time he had done that before.
Baez’s 16th homer took a tricky bounce off the low wall in right-center and deflected past oncoming right fielder Carlos Moncrief nearly 100 feet back in the direction of the corner in right. Moncrief eventually chased down the ball and Baez used a headfirst slide to beat a pretty one-hop throw home — “That’s Bo Jackson-arm stuff right there,” quipped Cubs manager Joe Maddon — and catcher Buster Posey’s tag attempt.
“It’s the deepest part of the field so I didn’t know if it was gone or not,” Baez said. “I just think he took the wrong turn off the wall and the ball just went really far from him. I couldn’t see it so I was just trying to run faster.”
The NL Central leaders moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, which lost 5-4 at Minnesota.
San Francisco rookie Ryder Jones hit his first career home run with a two-run shot in the sixth off Arrieta (11-8).
Arrieta hardly felt his best physically, but still struck out five and didn’t walk a batter in 6 1/3 innings. The nine hits he surrendered matched his second-highest total of the year.
“You’re going to have five to seven or eight starts over the course of the year where you don’t feel good physically but that has no bearing on the result,” Arrieta said. “That’s where the mental side of the game really comes into play.”
Wade Davis got three outs for his 24th save in 24 tries.
Jason Heyward scored on Baez’s home run after his two-out single against Matt Moore (3-12). Moncrief played on a night starter Hunter Pence sat out for scheduled rest.
“The other day we worked on everything, angles coming off of that right-field wall, but that was like the only one we didn’t,” Moncrief said. “I wasn’t really anticipating it to bounce like that. Now I know for next time. Hopefully there’s not a next time.”
It was Baez’s first career inside-the-park homer, and the first by a Cubs player since Anthony Rizzo on June 29 of last season at Cincinnati.
It marked the 10th at AT&T Park history, fourth by a non-Giants player that includes Ichiro Suzuki in the 2007 All-Star game. San Francisco’s Kelby Tomlinson last hit one on Oct. 3, 2015.
Rizzo and Albert Almora Jr. each hit RBI singles in the fifth as the Cubs added on, but they left the bases loaded in the eighth.
Moore struck out seven in six innings but gave up five runs and lost his fifth straight decision. He is winless in seven starts since beating the Braves on June 20.
Arrieta is 7-1 with a 1.14 ERA over his last nine regular-season outings in California dating to Aug. 25, 2015.
HOME RUN KING ANNIVERSARY
Former Giants star Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record 10 years ago Monday, on Aug. 7, 2007, at AT&T Park.
The 53-year-old Bonds waved on the big screen when shown in the broadcast booth before the top of the third inning, when highlights of his record-setting homer were played.
“I didn’t know it was 10 years,” Bonds said, standing behind the batting cage before the game. “I didn’t even know I was out of baseball 10 years. It feels like just yesterday.”
Maddon gave reliever Carl Edwards Jr. a night off and could stay away from him on Tuesday after he gave up Matt Wieters’ tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 9-4 home loss to the Nationals.
“I have not lost any confidence in him,” Maddon said. “Probably take it easy on him the next couple days until he gets his feet back on the ground.”
Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy said it likely would be a few days before 1B Brandon Belt felt better from his concussion and would be re-evaluated by doctors. … Closer Mark Melancon threw again and if he felt fine afterward was headed to Class-A San Jose on Tuesday for a rehab outing as he works back from a strained forearm. … RHP Johnny Cueto, nursing tender spots on three fingers of his pitching hand, was set to be examined by medical staff and could begin throwing in a few days.
Cubs: LHP Jose Quintana (2-1, 4.13 ERA with Cubs) faced San Francisco only once previously, taking a loss on Aug. 13, 2014, at AT&T Park, while with the White Sox.
Giants: LHP Ty Blach (7-7, 4.24 ERA) looks to follow his win against the Cubs on May 22 at Wrigley Field when he tossed seven strong innings.
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