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Cubs 3, Reds 1: Kyle Hendricks does it all

The Cubs righthander pitched — and hit! — the team to victory.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks would probably be the first one to tell you that he’s a lousy hitter. Entering Tuesday night’s game at Cincinnati, his lifetime batting average was .090 (24-for-267) with 133 strikeouts.

This game, then, could be one Kyle could brag about for the rest of his life, if he were the bragging type, which he’s not. Hendricks went 3-for-4, including a two-run double, and threw eight outstanding innings, almost singlehandedly defeating the Reds 3-1 in the first of a three-game series.

The Cubs began the scoring in this game with two out and no one on base in the second inning. They’ve been quite good this season at beginning rallies in that situation. Daniel Descalso laid down a perfect bunt and beat it out for a hit. Albert Almora Jr. singled him to second. And that brought up Hendricks [VIDEO].

That ball was well-struck, just the fourth extra-base hit (all doubles) of Hendricks’ career.

As it turned out, that alone would have been enough for the Cubs to win, because the only run Hendricks allowed was a one-out home run by Joey Votto in the fourth inning after Kyle had retired the first 10 Reds in order in the fashion he usually does — strikeouts on changeups and weak contact. I just love watching Kyle carve up hitters this way, without overwhelming velocity, but with outstanding location and changing speeds.

In the fifth, Kris Bryant led off with a double, one of three hits he had on the night, extending his on-base streak to 23 games:

Javier Baez singled KB to third, and Javy now has a career-high 12-game hitting streak. Willson Contreras followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

And then Hendricks got some help from his defense in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Derek Dietrich hit a ball to deep center field, but Almora ran it down [VIDEO].

Check out the look on Hendricks’ face after that catch.

And later in the inning, Descalso made a nice diving stop and throw to first on a sharp grounder by Tucker Barnhart to end the frame.

Hendricks ended the eighth inning at 92 pitches (66 strikes), so Joe Maddon let the new slugger bat for himself in the ninth, given that Kyle had two hits on the evening. He made it three with a line drive single to left, and that gave him this distinction:

More on Kyle at the bat:

But the Cubs could not pad the lead, and then Hendricks walked Nick Senzel leading off the last of the ninth. It was Hendricks’ first walk in his last 19 innings.

Kyle Ryan relieved Hendricks, and after running the count to 3-1 on Votto, got him to fly to left.

Steve Cishek replaced Ryan to face Eugenio Suarez, and took just one pitch to get him to hit a soft popup to second base, and six pitches later the game was over on a routine ground ball to second.

The Cubs’ third win in a row was also their 13th in their last 15 games, and let’s pile on the superlatives for Hendricks:

And Kyle plus Jon Lester equals domination in May:

Further, Hendricks had pitched poorly away from Wrigley Field previously this season, but this performance lowered his road ERA from 8.78 to 5.91 and his road WHIP from 2.475 to 1.734. Those numbers still aren’t great, but they are trending in the right direction. And:

Lastly, over their last seven games (6-1), the Cubs have allowed 15 total runs — and that includes the 7-0 loss to the Brewers on Friday. They’ve allowed only eight runs in the six wins and just one run in each of the last three games.

Here are Joe Maddon’s comments after the game [VIDEO].

That sums it up. Great pitching and hitting by Hendricks, solid defense, and timely hitting by the rest of the team against a pitcher (Tanner Roark) who had been tough on them in the past.

And thus, the complaint department is closed and locked up tight this morning.

The Cubs go for the series win, and their fourth victory in a row, Wednesday evening in Cincinnati. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Sonny Gray gets the call for the Reds. Game time again is 5:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN.