WASHINGTON -- Jake Arrieta pitched admirably Sunday as he moved to the forefront of the Cubs' staff in the wake of the departures of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
But like Samardzija and Hammel, he knows the Cubs' offensive support often disappears.
They have scored only one run in two games since Samardzija and Hammel were dealt to the Athletics, and the lack of clutch hitting persisted in a 2-1 loss Sunday to the Nationals that prevented the Cubs from winning their fourth consecutive road series.
At 38-48, the Cubs have the same record as they had at the same juncture in 2013. But Anthony Rizzo, one of the centerpieces for the Cubs' future, doesn't want to experience the recycled trend of enduring a miserable second half following a sell-off of veterans to playoff contenders. That's what happened last year when Scott Feldman and Matt Garza were traded.
"It's definitely a blow, but guys just have to step up," said Rizzo, who had two of the Cubs' 10 hits that were wasted after they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. "Whoever fills the rotation spots, that's it. Go out and keep the team in the game, just like Hammel and Jeff did.
"The hitters have to come through. Obviously we didn't come through. We got a great player (from the A's in Double-A prospect Addison Russell), from what I understand. We all felt a couple years ago ... I think people knew we were a ways away. And now two years later ... it's about the time to start contending."
Arrieta threw six innings of four-hit ball, but the dearth of runs caused Cubs manager Rick Renteria to lift Arrieta after 90 pitches for a pinch hitter to start the seventh with the Cubs trailing 1-0.
Arrieta fully understood the move that paid off when Chris Coghlan hit a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Starlin Castro.
The Nationals responded in the eighth when Denard Span doubled and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's two-out single.
In his first start since his second consecutive no-hit bid, Arrieta walked three and kept the damage to a minimum. He has a 0.99 ERA over his last seven starts.
Afterward, he was more disappointed with the trade of Samardzija and Hammel and showed no frustration over the lack of run support.
"Personally, I was a little upset just because the relationship I have with those guys, and that's where it starts and ends," Arrieta said. "It's tough to see two good friends go, two quality arms, but what they've done in their careers warranted a trade to a team that is trying to win a World Series this year.
"Oakland is very lucky to have those guys. They bring so much back to that club. You're going to get innings, a competitive attitude from start to finish, and that's what you need from starters. They're definitely going to get it."
(c)2014 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services