MILWAUKEE — Jake Arrieta struck out seven in six strong innings, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 on Friday night as they tried to keep up with Pittsburgh in the race to host the NL wild card game.
Anthony Rizzo had two hits and three RBIs, including a solo homer into the Cubs bullpen in right in the fourth off Ariel Pena (2-1).
Arrieta (22-6) allowed two singles in his final tuneup before the postseason. His ERA dropped to 1.77.
His next start will likely come against Pittsburgh in the NL wild card game. Entering Friday, the Pirates held a two-game lead on the Cubs in the race to host the game with three games left in the regular season.
The Pirates were tied with the Reds in extra innings when the Cubs game ended.
The Brewers finally broke through after Arrieta yielded to the bullpen in the seventh. Khris Davis hit a homer, his 27th, off Trevor Cahill.
Otherwise, it felt like Wrigley Field North at times on Friday with all the Cubs fans at Miller Park cheering on another dominating outing by Arrieta. The Cy Young Award contender improved to 11-0 since Aug. 1.
Chicago added two runs in the fifth after Milwaukee center fielder Logan Schafer bumped into right fielder Domingo Santana while going for a routine fly ball. The ball bounced off a glove and fell to the ground, allowing Kris Bryant to reach on an error and load the bases for Rizzo.
The left-handed slugger roped a two-run single to center for a 4-0 lead.
Pena allowed five hits, two walks and four runs while striking out six in 4 1/3 innings.
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon wasn't going to get Arrieta out of his routine even though the Cubs had already clinched a playoff berth, so having his ace skip his start was not an option. "We have to keep him in some sort of routine right now. He's a routine freak. And we're still vying for home field position," Maddon said.
Brewers: The lineup has been unsettled this season in part because of injuries. The team had used 126 different lineup combinations going into Friday's game, the 160th of the season. C Jonathan Lucroy (toe, concussion) and OF Ryan Braun (lower back) are among key players who have missed time.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-7) is 1-1 in three starts against the Brewers this season, including a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings over two starts at Miller Park.
Brewers: It could be a bullpen day on Saturday with RHP Tyler Wagner (0-1) on the hill. He has yet to make it past the fourth inning in either of his two starts.
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