Javier Baez's Inside-the-Park Home Run Helps Arrieta to Win

As his teammates went crazy celebrating, Javier Baez needed a couple of minutes just to catch his breath after running like mad around the bases.

Baez hit an inside-the-park homer to back Jake Arrieta's 11th win and Chicago beat the Giants 5-3 on Monday night in the champion Cubs' first visit to AT&T Park since rallying to eliminate San Francisco in Game 4 of the NL Division Series last October.

"Little League, I guess," a grinning Baez said about the only time he had done that before.

Baez's 16th homer took a tricky bounce off the low wall in right-center and deflected past oncoming right fielder Carlos Moncrief nearly 100 feet back in the direction of the corner in right. Moncrief eventually chased down the ball and Baez used a headfirst slide to beat a pretty one-hop throw home — "That's Bo Jackson-arm stuff right there," quipped Cubs manager Joe Maddon — and catcher Buster Posey's tag attempt.

"It's the deepest part of the field so I didn't know if it was gone or not," Baez said. "I just think he took the wrong turn off the wall and the ball just went really far from him. I couldn't see it so I was just trying to run faster."

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The NL Central leaders moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee, which lost 5-4 at Minnesota.

San Francisco rookie Ryder Jones hit his first career home run with a two-run shot in the sixth off Arrieta (11-8).

Arrieta hardly felt his best physically, but still struck out five and didn't walk a batter in 6 1/3 innings. The nine hits he surrendered matched his second-highest total of the year.

"You're going to have five to seven or eight starts over the course of the year where you don't feel good physically but that has no bearing on the result," Arrieta said. "That's where the mental side of the game really comes into play."

Wade Davis got three outs for his 24th save in 24 tries.

Jason Heyward scored on Baez's home run after his two-out single against Matt Moore (3-12). Moncrief played on a night starter Hunter Pence sat out for scheduled rest.

"The other day we worked on everything, angles coming off of that right-field wall, but that was like the only one we didn't," Moncrief said. "I wasn't really anticipating it to bounce like that. Now I know for next time. Hopefully there's not a next time."

It was Baez's first career inside-the-park homer, and the first by a Cubs player since Anthony Rizzo on June 29 of last season at Cincinnati. 

It marked the 10th at AT&T Park history, fourth by a non-Giants player that includes Ichiro Suzuki in the 2007 All-Star game. San Francisco's Kelby Tomlinson last hit one on Oct. 3, 2015.

Rizzo and Albert Almora Jr. each hit RBI singles in the fifth as the Cubs added on, but they left the bases loaded in the eighth.

Moore struck out seven in six innings but gave up five runs and lost his fifth straight decision. He is winless in seven starts since beating the Braves on June 20.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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