Kyle Hendricks keeps rolling along, Cubs’ offense erupts in win over Cardinals

Hendricks allowed two runs in 6 ⅓ innings for his 13th quality start. Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant each hit a three-run double, and Patrick Wisdom hit a two-run homer.

SHARE Kyle Hendricks keeps rolling along, Cubs’ offense erupts in win over Cardinals
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs

Kyle Hendricks pitches the ball against the Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Just a few weeks before the trade deadline that stands to steer the course of the Cubs’ franchise in a new direction for the coming years, the team has offered glimpses of what lies ahead and what is coming to an end.

The Cubs beat the Cardinals 10-5 on -Friday, a day after they lost to the Phillies 8-0 without Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras in the lineup.

Bryant was out again with an aching hamstring, but he was able to pinch-hit in the seventh inning. Baez originally was out, too, but he tested his thumb in the batting cage and was a late addition to the lineup. 

Those two and the rest of the batting order strung together hits and scored in vintage Cubs fashion, and starter Kyle -Hendricks tossed his 13th quality start of the season.

“This guy’s been holding it down for us,” manager David Ross said.

Hendricks pitched 6⅓ innings, allowing two runs that came in the third inning on RBI singles by Tyler O’Neill and Yadier Molina. In all, Hendricks scattered seven hits and a walk with just one strikeout. 

“Today I was really good mentally, and I did execute a lot of good pitches,” Hendricks said. “So I’ll take that moving forward.”

After a slow start to the season, Hendricks (11-4) has pitched at least six innings and is unbeaten in his last 11 starts, dating to May 9. He has a 2.56 ERA in that stretch and has gone back-to-back starts without allowing a home run. Hendricks surrendered 10 homers in April.

Hendricks said that his improvement since April has been the result of sticking with his process, but also because of small adjustments he has made in the last two months.

“Mentally, just the focus, where I was trying to execute with these pitches,” Hendricks said. “I finally got my fastball at the bottom of the zone. That’s changed a lot. And I’ve been pitching inside well, so it’s all just kind of coming together and just trying to stay there as long as we can.”

The Cubs scored three runs in the first inning on Joc Pederson’s bases-loaded double. They added on in the fourth when Ian Happ hit an opposite-field single to score Patrick Wisdom, in the seventh with Bryant’s pinch-hit, three-run double and Wisdom’s two-run homer, and in the eighth on Jason Heyward’s two-out single.

During the bulk of the Cubs’ 11-game losing streak, they hit just over .200. But in their last four games, they’re hitting .295 and averaging seven runs.

Bryant’s pinch-hit appearance was his first since Sept. 16, 2018, and the first time he has had a pinch-hit RBI since July 2015.

“Being able to use KB there in that situation, that was a really nice feeling,” Ross said. 

Ross said it felt good to get Bryant in the game, particularly because of the way his at-bat affected the Wrigley Field crowd, as he came to the plate and when he hit the double. The fans know they might not have many more times to cheer for him in a Cubs uniform.

A weekend series in July against the -Cardinals would have had divisional ramifications in recent years, but for the first time since 1999, the two teams met this late in the season with sub-.500 records. Winning or losing a ballgame becomes more about building toward a future that’s beyond this season.

Shortly after Bryant’s double, Wisdom clubbed the Cubs’ only homer of the afternoon — fittingly, the guy who most likely stands to man third base in the event Bryant is dealt later this month.

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