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Jake Arrieta, Kyle Schwarber lead Cubs past Pirates in NL wild-card game

Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs reacts

Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after a double play to end the sixth inning with the bases loaded during the National League wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Oct. 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh. Credit: Getty Images / Jared Wickerham

PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs are all about history, most of it negative. But it's a pretty good bet that Joe Maddon, Jake Arrieta and the Cubs' rookie sluggers aren't concerned about anything but making history in the 2015 postseason.

Arrieta threw a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and rookie Kyle Schwarber hit a massive two-run homer into the Allegheny River as the Cubs beat the Pirates, 4-0, Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game at PNC Park.

The Cubs, who won their last eight games of the regular season to finish 97-65, advanced to face the 100-win Cardinals beginning Friday in St. Louis.

The game featured a bench-clearing dustup in the top of the seventh when Pirates reliever Tony Watson hit Cy Young candidate Arrieta in the side with a fastball.

Arrieta earlier plunked two batters. He threw up and in to Francisco Cervelli in the fifth, catching the former Yankee in the hand.

"I don't think anybody was a fan of that," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Arrieta hit Josh Harrison in the back with a slider in the sixth. Even Hurdle said that one hardly seemed intentional because of the pitch choice and the fact it gave the Pirates two men on in a 4-0 game. But the record PNC Park crowd of 40,889 booed anyway.

"In those situations, there's no way I'm trying to put guys on base," Arrieta said. "The balls were very slick tonight. A couple got away from me."

Arrieta, who trash-talked with Pirates fans on Twitter leading up to the game, was hit on the first pitch of the at-bat by Watson. Arrieta said he expected it.

The benches and bullpens emptied, threats were exchanged and fingers were pointed. The NL Central rivals clearly were not kidding around as mini-skirmishes kept erupting.

"I think you can draw your own conclusions from what you saw," Maddon said. "I really don't want to denigrate this entire moment for our organization or our team."

Sean Rodriguez of the Pirates was the only player ejected. He already had been pinch-hit for in the third inning. After the melee, Rodriguez returned to the dugout and unleashed an impressive three-punch combination to KO a cooler.

When play resumed, Arrieta stole second without a throw. Nose, rubbed in it.

Chicago had not appeared in the postseason since 2008 and had not won a postseason game since 2003.

"Our guys played a really good game of baseball tonight," Maddon said.

The Pirates, who earned the homefield "advantage" by winning 98 games, have appeared in three consecutive wild-card games. They are 1-2. Since the wild-card round's inception in 2012, home teams are 2-6.

Arrieta, the 22-game winner who had a 0.75 ERA in the second half, taunted Pirates fans on Twitter on Sunday, replying to one who claimed the crowd was going to eat him alive: "Whatever helps keep your hope alive, it doesn't matter @Cubs."

The Cubs got on the board two batters in when Dexter Fowler singled, stole second and scored on a single to left by Schwarber, the converted catcher who started the game in rightfield.

Fowler singled with one out in the third before Schwarber launched a 2-and-1 pitch literally out of the park for a 3-0 Cubs lead.

Fowler homered with one out in the fifth to make it 4-0. Arrieta did the rest in a 113-pitch effort. Maddon joked his pitch limit was "infinity."

Said Maddon: "Jake, he's a different cat. I just think of [Joe] Namath guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory. That's all I could think of the last couple days."

New York Sports