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Jake Arrieta stakes his claim for Cy Young


SAN DIEGO — Hold everything.

“Learning lessons from last year I didn’t want him to go 110, 115 pitches,” Maddon said. “He understood that.”

He may have understood it but it may have also taken a quick conversation to convince him he was done after only 99.

“I was mad at Joe for taking me out,” Arrieta said. “At the same time he came over to me and said, ‘Remember last year, let’s conserve some things for October, end of September.’ That’s our game plan.”

If you fault Maddon for pulling him then you better keep quiet if Arrieta hits a wall as he did last year in the National League Championship Series. And remember the Cubs want to play one round longer. Saving pitches has been a year-long exercise. Why wouldn’t they pull Arrieta with a five-run lead in the game and a double-digit lead in the division?

“Could I have finished the game?” Arrieta asked. “Yes. But does it play in our favor to maybe conserve that for later?

“Joe is a really smart guy. He knows what he’s doing. I feel like he makes the right moves in the right situations. That’s why we’ve been playing as well as we have.”

The rotation has been doing it all season long. In terms of that batting average against, Arrieta isn’t the only starter giving up very little contact. In fact the Cubs starting staff is approaching historic numbers in that the opposition is hitting only .213 overall against them. For comparison, the Los Angeles Dodgers are second in the league but trail the Cubs by 20 points. According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, it would be the second lowest batting average against for a starting rotation since 1920, eclipsed only by the 1968 Cleveland Indians. And Arrieta is at the head of the pack. It gives hope for a repeat personal honor and the team a chance at something special this October. So Maddon says forget the near ninth-inning meltdown — the bullpen gave up three runs — Tuesday was about Arrieta.

“Subtract the drama, Jake was outstanding,” Maddon stated.

Making his third straight start after pitching most of July out of the bullpen, Buchholz gave up only one run, five hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. The innings output was his highest since early May. He struck out a season-high nine batters using a four-pitch medley led by a surprisingly vibrant fastball.

Regardless of how well he has pitched, with Steven Wright set to return Friday after throwing 55 pitches off the mound in a bullpen session, and Eduardo Rodriguez pitching three innings of a simulated game with no limitations, Buchholz might find himself once again without a spot in the rotation as the club does not plan to expand to six starters. After the game, Buchholz said he wanted to make the decision a “hard one” for Farrell.

Rookie Andrew Benintendi, who dazzled Red Sox Nation with his home run-robbing catch Monday night, set the tone with his bat in this one. With runs at a premium, Benintendi recorded his eighth multihit game in just his 18th career start. He opened the scoring in the third inning, racing home on an RBI single from David Ortiz.

A night after catching Hank Aaron on MLB’s all-time doubles list, Ortiz’s hit marked his 2,043th with the Red Sox, moving him past Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr for sixth on the franchise’s all-time hit list. Ortiz would come around for the Red Sox’s second run after a single by Mookie Betts and an error by right fielder Steven Souza allowed the 40-year-old to score from first base.

Once again, Boston received a tremendous defensive play made by an outfielder in the eighth inning. This time it was Betts, who threw out Kevin Kiermaier trying to stretch a double into a triple. Instead of the tying run just 90 feet away, Betts’ 10th assist of the season marked the second out of the inning.

Nick Franklin exits after two innings, goes on 7-day concussion DL


Kiermaier smacked the back of Franklin’s head with a bat when Franklin bent to grab some pine tar in the on-deck circle before leading off the first inning Wednesday against San Diego. Kiermaier was stretching a few feet in front of Franklin, swinging the bat over his head with one arm. Franklin was wearing a helmet.

Franklin drew a walk and scored in the first inning Wednesday before leaving with a head bruise. He passed concussion tests Wednesday and Friday.

Tampa Bay had a day off Thursday.

CINCINNATI — Michael Lorenzen could barely make it to the plate after recording the third out of his first inning following the death of his father.

Once he got there, he made it count. The Cincinnati reliever hit a three-run homer to cap the Reds’ 9-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

“Even after the third out of my first inning, I needed to go back into the bathroom because I broke down,” said Lorenzen, activated from the bereavement list before the game. “There were some teammates who helped me out, and I was able to go out and hit.”

Joey Votto also hit a three-run homer as the Reds snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Dodgers.

Tim Adleman pitched into and out of trouble in his first start since May 19 and added his first career hit and runs batted in as the Reds matched their season high with a fourth consecutive win and first against the Dodgers since Aug 13, 2015.

Los Angeles hit four balls to the outfield wall, but three were caught for outs in Adleman’s five scoreless innings. Adleman (2-1), who was sidelined because of a strained left oblique, gave up five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He also hit Joc Pederson twice with pitches.

The Dodgers were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Adleman, leaving runners on third four times.

“That was tough,” he said. “We were sitting pretty good. That went from feeling pretty good to feeling rotten pretty quick.”

Mike Napoli hit an RBI single in the sixth for Cleveland.

Toronto played without third baseman Josh Donaldson (jammed right thumb) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (sore calf).

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays utility man Nick Franklin has been placed on the seven-day concussion list after briefly playing in Friday night’s 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.