Jordan Wicks likely headed back to IL with strained right oblique

In his short outing, Wicks struck out two and allowed two hits and no runs. The left-hander was making his first start since going on the 15-day injured list with a strained right forearm April 28.

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Left-hander Jordan Wicks throws a baseball during Friday's game against the Cardinals.

Left-hander Jordan Wicks left Friday’s game early after his return from the 15-day IL.

David Banks/AP Photos

Cubs left-hander Jordan Wicks felt tightness in his right side during the second inning Friday. He threw a couple of more pitches but couldn’t shake that feeling before exiting his start against the Cardinals.

Wicks suffered a right oblique strain in a 3-0 loss at Wrigley Field. Manager Craig Counsell said that the injury likely will require a stint on the injured list and that Wicks will get more imaging Saturday.

Wicks struck out two in his short outing, allowing two hits and no runs. He was making his first start since going on the 15-day IL with a right forearm strain April 28. He worked 3„ innings in relief June 8.

The injury further depletes a pitching staff that already was reeling after right-hander Ben Brown’s stress reaction diagnosis in his neck that will cause him to miss more time.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Wicks said. “Especially just coming back from the IL and feeling like I was in an outstanding spot physically, to have something like this happen, it’s definitely frustrating. There’s not a whole lot we can do about it right now.”

In Wicks’ place, the Cubs turned to veteran Kyle Hendricks, who pitched 4⅓ innings, allowing two hits and no runs.

Hendricks kept the Cubs in the game as the offense continued to sputter. He induced seven groundouts and stayed out of harm’s way. His performance saved the bullpen for the next couple of days.

“It’s huge for us,” Wicks said. “[Hendricks] was outstanding. It was great to see him out there throwing like that.”

The team’s consistent pitching performances are the primary reason it hasn’t completely spiraled, despite a poor offensive stretch and inconsistent defense.

“Come in there for an injury, got to warm up on the mound in front of everybody and go out there and pitch as well as he did, [it’s a] testament to how pro he is,” third baseman Patrick Wisdom said. “He may be quiet and not say much, but he wants to ball, he wants to pitch, and we saw that today.”

Reliever Hayden Wesneski allowed a solo home run to Pedro Pages that gave the Cardinals the lead in the eighth.

In the ninth, second baseman Nico Hoerner couldn’t grab a softly hit ball to right field, leading to a run. It was a challenging play for Hoerner to make as he ran full speed toward the ball.

The team’s margin for error is razor-thin, and that shrunk even more after the injury to Wicks.

The fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation is now up for grabs. The team likely will need Hendricks to start Wednesday.

“We’ll take a look and see where we’re at,” Counsell said. “But we’re down pitchers right now. We’ll see where we’re at when we get there, but I think it looks like it.”

The last time Hendricks threw four innings or more was May 17 against the Pirates, which also was his last start. He allowed -seven earned runs and 11 hits.

The Cubs are in a stretch in which they could make up ground in the National League Central. The Cardinals are a .500 team, and the Cubs’ next three series are against teams below .500.

But they fell to 8-16 against teams in the division with the loss to the Cardinals. And after 10 games against the Giants (seven) and Mets (three), the Cubs will visit the first-place Brewers to close out the month.

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