Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks carries no-hitter into eighth inning vs. Giants

Hendricks held the Giants to one hit in eight innings in the Cubs’ 4-0 victory Saturday.

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Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks put together his best game of the season against the Giants on Saturday.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks put together his best game of the season against the Giants on Saturday.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Right-hander Kyle Hendricks was four outs away from a no-hitter when the Giants’ Mitch Haniger got ahold of a fastball and hit a double off the left-field wall.

“Should have dove headfirst into the wall to try to catch it,” left fielder Ian Happ said. “But he put it in the perfect spot.”

In the Cubs’ 4-0 victory, Hendricks held the Giants to one hit in eight innings.

The point of Hendricks’ offseason mechanical changes, as he worked his way back from a shoulder injury, was to get him back to the dominant pitcher he had been with the Cubs earlier in his career.

In his first three starts since coming off the injured list, Hendricks showed promising signs. The adjustments seemed to be paying off. On Saturday, he was masterful.

“I’ve been feeling good in the last few starts, honestly,” Hendricks said. “Felt like I was catching my rhythm, making a lot of good pitches. And the rhythm today was just better.”

For the first time, Hendricks called his own game using PitchCom.

“There was just a next level of conviction in every pitch with him in control of things,” manager David Ross said.

Only one Giant reached base before the eighth inning. Michael Conforto drew a five-pitch walk in the second inning.

There was one close call before Haniger’s hit. In the third inning, Brandon Crawford hit a long fly ball into the right-center-field gap, but center fielder Mike Tauchman came sprinting over and made a diving back-handed catch on the warning track.

“One of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Hendricks said. “In a game like that, you need plays like that.”

With the Cubs’ offense struggling lately, rookie Matt Mervis opened the scoring with a solo home run in the third inning.

Christopher Morel was batting third in the order and playing right field with Seiya Suzuki out of the lineup because he was “dealing with some small things,” according to Ross, who wouldn’t elaborate on what ailed Suzuki. Morel hit a solo homer in the fourth inning as well as a two-run single in the fifth that gave the Cubs some more insurance runs.

What was Hendricks like in the dugout with a no-hit bid going?

“Like he is if he gave up 10,” Ross said with a chuckle. “He’s the same dude. No matter what.”

Hendricks only got better as the game went on. In the sixth and seventh innings, he didn’t allow a fair ball in the air. It was all groundouts and strikeouts.

“I was playing, like, 15 feet shallower on everybody,” Tauchman said. “I was like, ‘A blooper is not going to beat us here. . . . I was diving for everything, running through the wall. Me and Happ were talking about it like, ‘We’re not letting this ball land.’ ’’

Happ was playing shaded toward the line a step or two with Haniger and Hendricks locked in an eight-pitch battle because of Haniger’s ability to hook balls pull side.

“I was trying to stick a fastball there on the inner half, and he got to it,” Hendricks said. ‘‘It was a really good swing. So just tip your cap, one of those things he beats you with. Lucky it stayed in the park, to be honest with you.”

Haniger drove it toward the gap, out of Happ’s reach.

“The hit doesn’t take away from how great [Hendricks] was today,” Tauchman said.

Said Happ: “He’s been a staple for a long time. One of the most underrated guys to do it for the last however many years. So you can expect a lot more of that.”

Injury updates

Center fielder Cody Bellinger (bruised left knee) went through a slew of baseball activities in Arizona, including taking live batting practice and sliding on the basepaths.

Also at the Cubs’ spring-training complex, reliever Brad Boxberger (strained right forearm) threw a 26-pitch bullpen session Saturday and felt good, according to the team.

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