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Arrieta appreciates Fenway fans' ovation

BOSTON -- As disheartening as it was, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta couldn’t help but enjoy the moment as he walked off the mound after giving up a single to Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew.

He had made it 7 2/3 hitless innings, striking out 10 and walking one while dominating Boston from start to finish Monday night in the Cubs’ 2-0 win. And the Fenway Faithful, a sellout crowd of 37,814, made their appreciation known with a standing ovation to acknowledge Arrieta's dazzling performance.

“Something like that in Fenway is pretty rare for an opposing team,” said Arrieta, who walked toward the dugout tipping his cap to the cheering crowd. “Got some goosebumps there. That’s kind of why you play this game is for moments like that.”

Having thrown six perfect innings against the Cincinnati Reds to kick off his last start six days earlier within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, Arrieta was no stranger to the pressure of this sort of feat. With his pitch count approaching what would be a career-high 120 as Drew, mired in a recent 2-for-36 stretch, stepped to the plate with two out in the eighth, Arrieta fell behind before evening the count at 2-2. The shortstop fouled off the next two pitches before lining a clean single to right on a 93 mph cutter.

However, the magnitude of what he had done was not lost on Arrieta.

“To do something like this last week in Wrigley and then to do it here, in these two parks, is pretty special,” Arrieta said.

With Arrieta having missed the start of the season due to shoulder tightness that occurred early in the spring, Cubs manager Rick Renteria knew he had to play it cautiously with his pitcher. Had Arrieta taken his no-hitter into the ninth, Renteria said he most likely would have let him continue to pitch. Instead, Renteria wasted no time in handing the ball off to Pedro Strop after Drew’s hit, but took a second to marvel at the crowd’s reaction while waiting on the mound.

“That was awesome,” Renteria said. “I have to tell you, we were all gathered at the mound and I looked at all these guys and said, ‘Look at this.’ That’s some kind of awesome. I tip my cap to everybody because that was some show of respect right there.”

“Great fans,” Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija agreed. “We were commenting about that during the game. There’s a calm and silence that comes over the stadium. Every pitch. They’re paying attention and reacting to every pitch. It was exciting.”

Fenway Park itself had not been kind to Arrieta in his previous seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. In three starts at Fenway, Arrieta had a 7.15 ERA, failing to make it past the fifth inning in any of the starts. Still, Arrieta said that pitching in Boston is something he’s always enjoyed.

“It was nice to get that out of my memory and just move forward,” Arrieta said. “Coming here is always special to me because I love Boston. The city is great, the park is amazing, the fans are great. Even as an opposing player, I can still appreciate that. The interaction that the fans have from start to finish in every game -- it’s just fun to be a part of.”

Perhaps made even more fun Monday night by the large contingent of Cubs fans that came out to see their team at Fenway, making their presence best known during the seventh inning stretch by rooting for “the Cubbies” in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

“It sounded like there were quite a few Cubs fans out there,” outfielder Ryan Sweeney said. “For that to happen on the road, it was probably a huge confidence booster for him.”