Jake Arrieta returned to form for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Arrieta pitched seven strong innings, but the Cubs still continued to struggle against the New York Mets in a tense 2-1 loss.
Arrieta retired 14 of the first 15 Mets hitters, including 12 straight following Yoenis Cespedes' single in the first. He allowed one run and struck out eight in his longest outing since June 11.
"That was a little more like it," Arrieta said. "I was really aggressive in the strike zone and I was using my off-speed pretty much throughout the whole game."
Last year's NL Cy Young Award winner got back on track after allowing four or more earned runs in three consecutive starts for the first time since 2012.
"It's good to see Jake pound the strike zone," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's a good game for him to build off of. Another closely contested game with these guys. We've just got to figure out how to score that run late to get on top."
Closer Jeurys Familia escaped a bases-loaded jam with a game-ending double play after Rene Rivera drove in the tiebreaking run with two outs in the top of the ninth, lifting the Mets to their fifth victory in six games against the Cubs this season.
Familia walked Addison Russell and Miguel Montero to start the ninth. Then Javier Baez reached on a bunt single when third baseman Jose Reyes made a play on a ball that appeared would roll foul. Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur hit a grounder to first baseman James Loney, and Loney threw out Russell at the plate.
Kris Bryant then hit into a 5-4-3 double play to give Familia his 33rd save in 33 chances and 49th straight dating to Aug. 1, 2015.
"It's hard not to chase (Familia's pitches) sometime," Maddon said. "He's got a natural sinker and he throws the ball really hard and he can throw ground balls, so give him credit."
Rivera had the third single in the ninth — following hits by Loney and Asdrubal Cabrera — off Hector Rondon (1-2) as the Mets beat the Cubs in a rematch of in last year's NL Championship Series.
Hansel Robles (4-3) pitched two scoreless innings in relief for the win.
Noah Syndergaard of the Mets also returned to dominant form in a no decision.
Syndergaard gave up one unearned run on seven hits through 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight before being replaced by Jerry Blevins after throwing 105 pitches.
Syndergaard had his velocity early, reaching 100 mph in the first inning, and was able to escape jams in the first and second. He left in the fifth inning of his previous start, on July 8, with arm fatigue after allowing three runs in a loss to Washington.
"Overall, it was a great team win, lot of fun to be part of," Syndergaard said. "It was great to come in here and squeeze out a win against their ace."
Arrieta doubled with two out in the fourth, then was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Michael Conforto when he tried to score on Tommy La Stella's single. At first, Arrieta was ruled safe by umpire Eric Cooper, but he was called out following a video review.
Both Collins and Maddon loaded their starting lineups with lefties against two of the major's premier right-handed starters.
Maddon called out the split against Syndergaard as "enormously different." Righties entered hitting .210 against him, lefties were batting .282. Against Arrieta, righties were hitting .182, lefties were at .215.
Cubs: All-Star 2B Ben Zobrist batted fourth after getting two days off. ... OFs Dexter Fowler (right hamstring strain) and Jorge Soler (left hamstring strain) had the start of their rehab stints at Triple-A pushed back a day when the Iowa Cubs were rained out. Maddon said both were close to returning, but he "didn't know exactly."
RHP Bartolo Colon (8-4, 3.11) squares off against Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks (8-6, 2.41) in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon. Hendricks allowed just three hits in six shutout innings in his last start against Texas on Friday and has a 1.70 ERA in his last 11 outings.