CINCINNATI – Jake Arrieta was shutting 'em down and the Cubs' offense was piling up the hits. The defending World Series champions felt a little more like their old selves for one game.
Next challenge: Keep it going into the All-Star break.
Arrieta pitched one-hit ball for seven innings without allowing a stolen base Sunday, and Ian Happ homered twice in the ballpark where he played as a college star, leading the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs (41-41) salvaged the final game of their series with a little vintage form.
"That's kind of what we do when we're at our best," Arrietta said.
Injuries to the starting lineup and inconsistencies in the rotation have left the World Series champions treading water. Arrieta (8-6) was coming off a subpar performance that created friction and a surprise move.
The Nationals stole seven bases off Arrieta during their 6-1 win Tuesday, and catcher Miguel Montero complained afterward about the pitcher's move to the plate with runners on base. Montero was cut loose the following day.
Back in the ballpark where he threw a no-hitter last season, Arrieta was back in form, allowing only Joey Votto's first-inning single and a pair of walks – the Reds were never in position to try to steal. Votto singled home a pair of runs in the eighth off Koji Uehara.
Arrieta matched his season high by going seven innings for the third time. He got his changeup working and induced a lot of awkward swings.
"That was as good as I've seen Jake in a bit," manager Joe Maddon said.
The Reds felt that way, too.
"Arrieta was really good," manager Bryan Price said. "He didn't give us much."
Happ grew up in the Pittsburgh area and played at the University of Cincinnati, including one game at Great American Ball Park. His mother was in the stands along with many former teammates and friends. Happ was well aware of the tendency for balls to fly in warm weather at Great American.
"Day games here, if you get one on the barrel you've got a chance," Happ said.
The first-round pick from 2015 hit a two-run homer and a solo shot off Tim Adleman (5-5). The rookie added an RBI single, the third time he's driven in four runs in a game.
Anthony Rizzo also had a solo homer, and Javier Baez doubled home a run as the Cubs prevented a three-game sweep.
PACK 'EM IN
The Reds drew 60,838 fans for a three-game series against Milwaukee leading up to the Chicago series. They drew 117,863 fans for the weekend series, many of them Cubs fans.
It was Happ's second multi-homer game. ... Javier Baez singled and doubled off Adleman, leaving him 5 for 6 career off the right-hander with a pair of doubles and a homer. ... The last Cubs player to hit three homers in a game was Kris Bryant at Great American last June 27. ... Votto's two singles left him with 1,499 career hits, tied with Ted Kluszewski for 10th on the franchise list.
Cincinnati acquired Double-A outfielder/first baseman Nick Longhi from Boston in exchange for international signing bonus pool space. The Reds also optioned RH starter Jackson Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville and called up RHP Asher Wojciechowski. LHP Brandon Finnegan was moved to the 60-day DL with a shoulder injury.
Cubs: Ben Zobrist started in right field, his first start since returning from a sore left wrist that sidelined him for 17 games. He was activated a day earlier and pinch hit.
Reds: SS Zack Cozart was back after getting a day of rest. Cozart is recovering from a strained right thigh.
Cubs: After a day off, they open a six-game homestand heading into the All-Star break. John Lackey (5-9) starts against Tampa Bay's Chris Asher (6-5). In his last start, Lackey gave up a season-high eight runs in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-4 loss to Washington.
Reds: Luis Castillo (0-0) makes his third major league start as Cincinnati begins a seven-game road trip at Coors Field, facing Colorado's Jeff Hoffman (4-1). Castillo was the victim of blown saves in his first two starts.