PHOENIX — Jake Arrieta is cruising along quite nicely. Same for Kris Bryant.
Arrieta won consecutive starts for the first time since early April, Javier Baez and Ian Happ hit consecutive home runs in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2 on Sunday.
Bryant put the Cubs ahead when he scored from second on a wild pitch from Zack Godley in the first inning on strike three to Victor Caratini. The reigning NL MVP added his 21st homer in the ninth inning, reaching for the 13th time in 15 plate appearances during the three-game series.
"It's nice to see when you work on something and when it comes to fruition in games, you feel good about it," Bryant said.
A day after falling into a virtual tie with St. Louis for the NL Central lead, Chicago grabbed the rubber game of its weekend series in Arizona to take a one-game lead over the second-place Cardinals. St. Louis lost 6-3 to Atlanta, ending an eight-game winning streak.
"I would bet they are," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said when asked if his team was aware of the division standings. "None of this surprises. We're out West, (the Cardinals) are back home. You've got to get through these difficult moments in the schedule. ... It's going to be a real interesting finish to the Central this year."
Paul Goldschmidt hit his 28th homer in the ninth, but Arizona, bidding for an NL wild card, lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Arrieta (12-8) allowed one run and three hits in six innings. Coming off a 5-3 win over San Francisco, Arrieta had not won back-to-back starts since victories at St. Louis and Miami in his first two outings this season.
"I want to come out and establish good sink early in the ballgame and try and force early contact," Arrieta said. "And try and get through the third or fourth inning with 40 pitches. And if I'm able to get through the first time through the order with those established, my job becomes a lot easier."
Godley (5-5) had three wild pitches and four walks in 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight. He struck out four in the first inning, the first Diamondbacks pitcher to fan four in a frame since Oliver Perez in September 2014.
Baez's three-run homer off Jake Barrett, a drive into the second deck in left, came after an intentional walk to Jason Heyward and put the Cubs ahead 5-1. Happ, pinch-hitting for Carl Edwards Jr., homered three pitches later.
"Traditionally Baez doesn't have a tremendous amount of success when you are comparing left, right splits. I just liked the matchup," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "All indications were pointing to Jake's stuff having a better conclusion than it did."
The Cubs' Kyle Schwarber struck out in each of his three at-bats and has fanned in seven consecutive at-bats.
The three-game series drew 123,110, the most for a three-game set at Chase Field since 132,925 for a series against San Francisco from Sept. 23-25, 2011. Many were Cubs fans.
"When there's people in the seats, players really like that," Lovullo said.
Cubs: Maddon expects to get an update on SS Addison Russell (right foot strain) when the team returns to Chicago for a seven-game homestand beginning on Monday. Russell went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 3.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (concussion) threw a 50-pitch simulated game Saturday but there's no timetable for his return. ... Ray pitched to OF Yasmany Tomas (groin injury), who is moving closer to playing rehab games. ... RHP Randall Delgado (right elbow inflammation) is throwing from 120 feet with little to no discomfort.
Cubs: LHP Jose Quintana (2-2) starts for the Cubs on Monday in the opener of a four-game series against Cincinnati. The Reds are one of four teams Quintana has yet to face.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke (13-5) starts Monday at home against Houston. Greinke is coming off his first loss at Chase Field this season.
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