Arrieta dominates in first return to Baltimore

Former Oriole hopes 4-hit outing can be springboard with Cubs off to hot 2nd-half start

Arrieta dominates in first return to Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- Jake Arrieta ate at his favorite breakfast spot on Saturday, then toured his old hangouts in Baltimore, showing his two young children where he used to live. He capped his homecoming with a win that could be a sign of things to come.

Making his first start at Camden Yards since the Orioles traded him to the Cubs in July 2013, Arrieta held Baltimore to four hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Chicago's 10-3 Interleague win.

"It was a really cool feeling," Arrieta said about being back.

He heard a little chirping in the dugout from some fans but said the majority graciously welcomed him back.

"All in all, it was a great experience," Arrieta said. "I was fortunate to be able to play here for a few years. Now I've moved on to this phase of my career. I wouldn't trade those years [with the Orioles] for anything. I'm able to be the player I am today because of what I went through in this organization."

Since Arrieta was dealt to the Cubs, he's thrown two no-hitters, won the National League Cy Young Award, and a World Series. That's not too shabby.

Contreras on Arrieta's start

Saturday's outing was good enough. Arrieta admitted he didn't play catch during the All-Star break and was pretty much limited to two pitches against the O's.

"I think we knew coming in that we had our work cut out for us," Baltimore's Chris Davis said. "He's a guy you're going to have to grind out. His ball moves so much that you have to make him be around the zone, and he did a good job tonight."

It helped that the Cubs pounded 16 hits, including home runs by Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr. and Anthony Rizzo, and a bases-clearing triple by Jason Heyward. With the win, the Cubs are back at .500 for the 21st time this season, and won back-to-back games for the first time since June 18-20.

Heyward's bases-clearing triple

"I'll take strike throwing, ball on the ground, missed hits," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Arrieta's outing. "When you throw [offspeed pitches] too often, you have 90 to 100 pitches going into the sixth and you have to work, work, work, work, work. I like the approach of the located fastball and let us play some defense. I'll take that [performance] the rest of the year."

Maddon heard more laughter than usual in the clubhouse prior to Saturday's game. The All-Star break appears to have come at the perfect time.

"It's a fresh start or however you want to look at it," Heyward said. "It's some time away to mentally give yourself some space and focus on you and try to be the best you [that] you can be.

"There's a lot of things we can't control that go on every day as players but we can control how we work and how smart we work and how we approach every day," Heyward said. "It's only been two games, but that will be big for us in the second half, to focus on being the best version of ourselves we can be and go from there."

Arrieta has told friends how he expects to finish in the second half but didn't want to share his prediction.

"We didn't perform the way we would like, all the way around," he said of the Cubs. "We want to get back to where we were last year, we want to get to the playoffs and have a shot to play in November again. It's still within reach."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.