CHICAGO - Jake Arrieta did quite well without his best stuff.
Arrieta struck out seven in seven innings, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.
Arrieta (6-2) allowed one run and three hits in his first victory since June 30 at Boston. The 6-foot-4 right-hander has a 1.73 ERA in his last 11 starts, holding opponents to a .162 batting average.
"Well, you know, going in I felt a little off," he said. "In the 'pen I kind of realized it. I just didn't feel like I had a lot of life on my fastball today, but I was able to come out with a good mix of off-speed pitches for strikes, below the zone for swings and I mixed in some changeups. My cutter was pretty good today."
The Cubs won three of four in a matchup of last-place teams. The Rockies have lost four of five and 11 of 15 overall.
Pedro Hernandez (0-1) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings in his first start for Colorado.
Arrieta retired his first 14 batters before Wilin Rosario single with two out in the fifth. Corey Dickerson singled and scored on Nolan Arenado's double in the seventh for Colorado's two other hits against the pitcher.
"Arrieta was really good," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said, "but toward the end of his rope there, we had an opportunity but could never get to him."
Arrieta, 28, said he's learned that pitching is not all about blowing hitters away. In the past, he may have stuck with his fastball on a day when it wasn't quite there instead of trying something else.
"That's something you have to take it upon yourself as a pitcher to recognize at an early stage in the game," he said. "There are times where guys won't recognize that and they'll continue to try and find their fastball and give up hits."
Chicago scored three times in the sixth despite getting one ball out of the infield the entire inning. Starlin Castro had a bases-loaded walk, Justin Ruggiano added a sacrifice fly and Luis Valbuena drove in a run with a grounder to shortstop.
Hector Rondon got three outs for his 14th save in 17 opportunities. He retired three straight after Arenado and Justin Morneau singled to start the ninth.
ROCKIES: Outfielder Michael Cuddyer (fractured shoulder) is scheduled to take part in light batting practice drills on Friday. If he progresses as expected in the next seven to 10 days, a minor league rehab stint will be the next step in his recovery.
The Rockies open a three-game series Friday at Detroit, with left-hander Franklin Morales (5-5, 5.18 ERA) taking on Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander (9-9, 4.59 ERA).