(SportsNetwork.com) - Jake Arrieta has been the steady pitcher guiding a Chicago Cubs team that has undergone major changes in the last day. On Sunday, the 28-year-old right-hander aims to continue his four-game winning streak in the rubber match of a three-game set versus Washington at Nationals Park.
The Cubs sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. To land Samardzija, whose 2.83 earned run average this season ranked 10th among National League hurlers, and Hammel, the A's surrendered the top two rated players in their farm system in Double-A shortstop Addison Russell and Single-A outfielder Billy McKinney. The Cubs also received pitcher Dan Straily, a 10-game winner for Oakland last season, and will obtain either a player to be named later or cash considerations.
That leaves Arrieta as essentially the top starter in a fluctuating rotation. He came within four outs away from his first career no-hitter on Monday in a 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Arrieta threw a career-high 120 pitches and allowed just one hit and a walk with 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.
Arrieta has won four straight starts and is 4-0 over his last six outings, last losing May 27 at San Francisco. He is 0-1 with a 6.84 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals.
Jordan Zimmermann, who has not allowed a home run in DC since April 9 versus Miami, a span of 49 innings, toes the rubber for the Nationals. He has pitched six innings in each of his last two outings and is coming off a victory on Monday at home versus the Rockies.
In six career starts against the Cubs, Zimmermann is 1-4 with a 5.59 ERA.
Yesterday, Gio Gonzalez continued his mastery of the Cubs, and the Nationals smacked a season-best 19 hits in a 13-0 win. Gonzalez (6-4) baffled the Cubs, giving up four singles with a walk and seven strikeouts over eight innings. The lefty authored a fourth consecutive scoreless start against them, a stretch that spans 30 innings.
He hasn't allowed a run in his last 22 innings overall.
Ryan Zimmerman collected four hits and knocked in three runs for Washington, which had its season-best, five-game winning streak snapped Friday.
Anthony Rendon had three of the Nationals' eight doubles and joined Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond with two RBI.
"Everybody swung the bat really well," said Washington manager Matt Williams.
Carlos Villanueva (4-6) made the spot start in place of Samardzija and allowed four runs on five hits in two-plus innings. Chris Rusin followed Villanueva and was tagged for five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"Hopefully this will be the last year that the Cubs are sellers at this point, and the organization can break through next year and be in a position where Oakland is now," Villanueva said. "Instead of selling, we can be buyers."
The Cubs had won their last four games and five straight on the road.
The teams have split six contests going into the final game of the season series. The Nationals are 17-10 versus the Cubs since the start of 2011.