FINAL SCORE: Cubs 4-0 Pirates

The Cubs are moving on.

In a game that had pitcher’s duel written all over it, Jake Arietta answered the call and helped lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.

Arrieta was masterful, twirling a complete-game four-hitter while striking out 11 Buccos. He worked through the game unscathed until the Pirates rallied the bases loaded in the sixth inning. However, Starling Marte ripped into a double play to end the threat.

Arrieta got some early help from the top of Chicago’s lineup, courtesy of Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler. After driving home Fowler with a single in the first inning, the lefty rookie slugger Schwarber blasted a 449-foot home run to right field that drove in Fowler again and put the Cubs ahead, 3-0, in the third.

Not to be outdone, Fowler added a solo shot in the fifth to put Chicago up, 4-0. It would prove more than enough for Arrieta, as the only drama he encountered after the sixth was a bench-clearing brawl in the seventh.

He was plunked in his at-bat and had some words with Tony Watson, which emptied both benches in the process. The lone ejection was Sean Rodriguez, who took out some frustration on the water cooler. Arrieta responded to the chaos by stealing second base and getting through the seventh inning with help from a nifty Kris Bryant double-play turn to end the threat. 

Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole finished the night having given up four runs on six hits and tallying four strikeouts in five innings. The two home runs proved to be the difference, with the Pirates unable to find an answer on offense.

For the second straight year, Pittsburgh was held scoreless on its home field in the Wild Card Game. In those two games combined, the Bucs had just eight hits, nine baserunners and struck out 21 times.

The Pirates end their season with 98 wins, the second most in the majors. That won’t make losing two years in a row feel any better, and winning the division becomes that much more important in 2016.

For Chicago, tonight marked 14 consecutive wins in games Arrieta has pitched. The victory also ended a nine-game postseason losing streak.

The Cubs will now travel to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, whom they’ve faced 19 times this year but never in the playoffs. Chicago went 8-11 against St. Louis this season.

First pitch is slated for Friday at 6:45 p.m. ET.

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