PHOENIX — This was one of those games when a look at the box score could be deceiving.
Sunday's numbers show that Chicago Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gave up three runs in 6⅔ innings while taking the 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. What they don't show is that Arrieta was nasty on the mound for most of his outing and nearly unhittable until the sixth inning.
Aaron Hill had a single and double, but he was the only Arizona player to do anything off Arrieta through the first five innings.
It was in the sixth when the Diamondbacks decided they were going to get more aggressive at the plate. After sitting back and watching Arrieta jump ahead of hitter after hitter, the first two batters swung at the right-hander's first offering, and each ended up with a double.
"They got aggressive on first-pitch fastballs," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Those pitches may have been a little bit more over the plate and they jumped on it."
Arrieta retired the first two batters of the seventh -- which the Cubs entered trailing 2-1 -- before walking pinch hitter Mark Trumbo. Renteria then decided to remove Arrieta, who'd thrown 105 pitches.
"Jake looked real good," Renteria said. "He got us deep into the ballgame. I just tried to help him out at the end because his pitch count was starting to get up there."
The move was a little surprising at first because Arrieta hadn't pitched in nine days due to the All-Star break. However, Arrieta revealed after the game that he had been battling a stomach virus and wasn't at full strength entering the game.
"The extra rest sometimes is nice," Arrieta said. "The challenge for me was what I was dealing with the past three days. My body was weak. I couldn't eat solid food. It was a weird three days but I was able to put that out of my mind and grind through it and make some big pitches."
Despite the solid start from Arrieta, the bottom line is that the Cubs lost their fifth consecutive game and were swept by a team that was in last place when the three-game series began.
Chicago opens a 10-game homestand Tuesday after finishing a stretch that saw it play 14 of 17 games on the road dating to June 30.
Even though the Cubs return to familiar territory, the cloud of the recent trade and expectations of continued change and struggle still hangs over the team.
"I just told them to keep your heads up because you kept grinding today and things will change," Renteria said. "We came in here and they took three from us. All I can do is have them continue to grind."
"It's the situation we are in as a team," Arrieta said. "We're well aware that trades will possibly continue to take place and guys will get shuffled around to different positions to get experience and comfortable in certain situations. But that doesn't take away from our mindset of winning every game and every series."
The Cubs are off Monday before welcoming the San Diego Padres for a three-game series beginning Tuesday.