A year after a disappointing departure from Baltimore, Jake Arrieta is thriving in Chicago.
The right-hander is unbeaten in his last eight starts after beginning the season on the disabled list due to shoulder tightness. Now he'll try to stop the Cubs' four-game skid Sunday against Paul Goldschmidt and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arrieta's undefeated stretch began with one of his shortest outings of the season, when he lasted 4 2-3 innings on June 3 against the New York Mets. He gave up seven hits and walked three, but he allowed one first-inning run in Chicago's 2-1 win.
Then he really put on a show.
Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA) pitched six shutout innings against Miami, and seven more against Philadelphia. He retired his first 18 batters in a victory over Cincinnati. He was so good against the Red Sox that the fans at Fenway Park saluted him with a loud ovation when he departed after Boston's first hit with two out in the eighth.
Arrieta is 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA and a .160 opponents' batting average during his impressive six-week run.
"I think when he goes out there on the hill, he's got a calmness about him,'' manager Rick Renteria said. ''He's got some poise and hopefully this is now a turning point, it continues to be a turning point for him in his career and he continues to move forward and he's able to take advantage of that great stuff he's got.''
Arrieta, who was selected by the Orioles in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, drew Baltimore's opening-day start in 2012, and threw seven scoreless innings in a victory over Minnesota.
It looked as if he could be a key contributor for the Orioles for years to come, but he was shuffled back and forth between Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore before he was traded to Chicago last July. He credits the change of scenery and his experience in developing a successful routine as two big reasons for his recent success.
Arrieta will try to build on his solid first part of the season in what could be a difficult matchup with Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks (42-56), who seek a season high-tying third straight win.
Goldschmidt went 3 for 3 with his 18th homer in Saturday's 9-3 victory at Chase Field. The All-Star first baseman has homered in the first two games of the series, leaving him with a .444 average, four long balls and 16 RBIs in his last 12 versus Chicago.
''When you're scoring multiple runs on at-bats, that's ideal,'' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.
Arizona right-hander Josh Collmenter (7-5, 3.80) will try to build on his last performance July 9 when he gave up one run over seven innings in a 4-3, 10-inning home win versus Miami.
He owns a 1.26 ERA in five career appearances - including two starts - against the NL Central-worst Cubs (40-56), who have dropped 10 of 13 to the Diamondbacks and 10 of 12 overall.
Chicago's Welington Castillo went 2 for 4 with his seventh home run Saturday, while Starlin Castro added two hits after going 5 for 38 with eight strikeouts over his previous 10 games.
Arizona's All-Star catcher Miguel Montero, who had two hits and three RBIs, is 7 for 17 with six RBIs in the season series.
Outfielder Cody Ross might be sidelined after leaving Saturday's game with left calf tightness, though Gibson said it doesn't appear serious.