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Jake Arrieta keeps fresh start going as Cubs blank Cardinals 7-0

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

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Updated: September 18, 2013 6:16AM



Carlos Villanueva is quick to say he’ll have no complaints next season if he’s popping champagne in the clubhouse as a member of the Cubs bullpen.

It would mean Villanueva had done his part paving the way for his rotation replacement, Jake Arrieta.

‘‘I saw him pitch in Baltimore and here, and he’s got great stuff,’’ Villanueva said Friday in his first comments since losing his starting job. ‘‘If we can have a guy who can be a big contributor for next year in that role, which I think he could be, let’s see what it is.’’

Arrieta showed his best Friday in his second start for the Cubs, shutting out the St.  Louis Cardinals on two hits through seven innings in a 7-0 victory.

The Cubs scored more runs for Arrieta (1-0) in one game than they had for the rest of the staff in the previous six home games — and all he needed was one.

‘‘When anybody can throw a ball 90 mph, spinning it, that kind of thing, and they have the velocity and have 97 mph in their back pocket when they need it, it’s very intriguing,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of Arrieta, 27, who was acquired July 2 from the Baltimore Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade. ‘‘That’s the kind of stuff that the power arms can do — throwing strikes and making pitches.

‘‘We wanted to get him here with [pitching coach Chris] Bosio and see him and work with him and the system we have in place. We’re not judging anything, just getting this guy to have command and understand how to use his pitches and do the things he can do with that kind of power arm.’’

Arrieta was the Orioles’ opening day starter, but he was sent down with a 1-2 record and 7.23 ERA after three more starts.

In two starts for the Cubs, his ERA is 0.69.

‘‘For me, there’s no question that this change of scenery and this trade was huge for me and my career,’’ Arrieta said. ‘‘Not only for me, but I think for the Cubs as well. I couldn’t be more excited to be here. I’m thankful to the front office for wanting me and bringing me into this organization.’’

Knowing he is in the rotation already has helped him.

‘‘The biggest thing is just being able to get into the routine again,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a good feeling. I knew it was just a matter of time.

Arrieta struck out seven and walked two, both in the sixth. He ended the inning with a called third strike — one of five — on Matt Holliday.

‘‘That’s really what’s gotten me in the past — too many free passes,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve made a conscious effort to get better at certain things, and it’s starting to show.’’

Email: tginnetti@suntimes.com

Twitter: @toniginnetti



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