Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks’ 80 mph changeup dropped out of the strike zone, but Padres leadoff hitter Trent Grisham didn’t recognize the pitch in time. His back knee dropped to the ground as he finished his swing, thoroughly fooled on strike three to end the fifth inning.
That’s the kind of deception Hendricks creates when he’s a his best.
Hendricks made his first start in two weeks in the Cubs’ 12-5 loss Tuesday to the Padres. Manager David Ross decided to give Hendricks time to rest his fatigued shoulder and used the Cubs’ days off last week to skip his turn in the rotation.
‘‘It benefitted me a ton,’’ Hendricks said of the rest. ‘‘Healthwise, I feel back to 100% normal. So that was huge from Rossy just to find that window there with a couple of off days to have me skip a start and really decrease my volume a lot.’’
It wasn’t immediately clear how the time off would affect the short term, but Hendricks answered that question against the Padres, allowing one run in five-plus innings. Still, the loss extended the Cubs’ skid to eight games.
Hendricks has had an up-and-down season. Last month in San Diego, he came one out away from a complete-game shutout against the Padres. Two starts later, he gave up seven runs to the Diamondbacks.
‘‘I think just getting back to who he is,’’ Ross said when asked about Hendricks’ changeup usage Tuesday. ‘‘You saw that show up today, and hopefully that continues because he looked really good tonight. That was one of the better versions I’ve seen of him, [especially] against that lineup.’’
Hendricks’ scoreless first inning was littered with deep counts, but he honed his efficiency after that.
In the second, he needed only 11 pitches to retire the side in order. In the third, a fielding error didn’t faze him. In the fourth, he used soft contact to his advantage. In the fifth, he got out of a jam with the strikeout that dropped Grisham to one knee.
Hendricks faced only one batter in the sixth, giving up a double to Jake Cronenworth. Ross replaced Hendricks with reliever Chris Martin as Padres star Manny Machado stepped to the plate. Hendricks had thrown 78 pitches.
‘‘I felt like he was running out of gas,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I think he was kind of batter-to-batter. Talked to him after the fifth. Hot day, he’s thrown two bullpens, we’ve kind of stretched him out and the marker was in the 85-pitch range.’’
Cronenworth later scored, accounting for Hendricks’ one run allowed, as part of the Padres’ four-run sixth. The Padres then added six runs in the seventh against three relievers to blow the game open.
Hendricks leaned on his changeup throughout his outing. It accounted for 40% of his pitches, according to Statcast, higher than his 29% average this season.
‘‘After the first inning or two, I noticed I had good action on it and saw the swings I was getting off it. But I was establishing my fastball . . . enough to have it work right off that. And [catcher Willson Contreras] just did a great job feeling what they were trying to do.”
The changeup helped Hendricks generate six strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ offense, led by Contreras, snapped a streak of seven games of scoring four runs or fewer. Contreras homered in his first two at-bats, a solo shot in the first for a 1-0 lead and a two-run blast in the third to make it 3-0, for the 10th multihomer game his career.