Arrieta's early exit puts stress on pen

ST. LOUIS -- If you're a fan of Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, the good news is he wasn't happy with his four-inning, one-run performance on Tuesday night in the Cubs' 4-3, 12-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The bad news is Arrieta came out of the game early for the same reason he always does when he leaves too soon: walks and a high pitch count.

"Wasn't near efficient enough," Arrieta said afterward. "That's what led to the high pitch count and the early exit. I feel bad for having the bullpen come into the game too early there. There's no reason they need to be in the game before the sixth or seventh at least."

Arrieta gave up four hits, five walks and struck out five in his four innings. He gave up only one run so maybe he's being too hard on himself, though 82 pitches in four innings isn't going to get him deep into many games. He's already limited because of a late start to the season after a shoulder issue. This was only his third start.

"We're still very mindful of him coming off his rehab," manager Rick Renteria said. "We're still very mindful of how many pitches and how efficient he is. It's one of those things where we didn't want him to get in too much trouble and have to work through and drive his pitch count too high, so he had an early exit."

Considering the game went 12 innings, you could see how Arrieta's dismissal after four hurt the Cubs. That's eight innings that needed filling. This has been the knock on Arrieta since he broke into the league, and if he can't correct it he can't be a viable long-term starter for the Cubs. His stuff is great, but the stress due to walks and inefficiency has held him back from getting to the next level.

"Walks for me ... it's not acceptable," Arrieta said. "Let them hit your stuff. I need to be more mechanically sound. There is no reason to have the ball ratio as high as it was tonight."

Arrieta threw 40 balls to go with 42 strikes. For comparison, the opposing starter, Adam Wainwright threw 61 strikes of 93 overall pitches.

"I gave some good hitters too many free passes," Arrieta said. "I need to stay on the offensive side of pitching more. It's frustrating."

The outing can be summed up by the bottom of the third inning. Luis Valbuena had just hit a two-run home run in the top of the inning to give the Cubs the lead. But Arrieta came out and walked the first two hitters of the bottom of the inning. With a lead, Arrieta needs to stay on the offensive, as he put it. He didn't and his night ended early. If not for a base-running blunder by Jhonny Peralta, Arrieta would have given up more than one run in that inning.

"I didn't do as good of a job as I'm capable of tonight," he said.