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Cubs 8, Rockies 6: Joc pop!

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The new Cubs outfielder had himself another hitting day.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks was supposed to become the first Cubs starter to complete four innings Thursday afternoon, but his outing didn’t go well. He wound up removed one batter into the fourth inning after 53 pitches and allowing seven hits and four runs.

I’ve buried the lede here, because Hendricks’ not-so-great outing was overshadowed by yet another great day at the plate from Joc Pederson, who appears to be a man on a mission to prove he’s worth the faith that Jed Hoyer placed in him. Pederson slugged two homers and also singled, helping lead the Cubs to a 7-5 win over the Rockies.

The Cubs wasted no time getting on the board in the first inning. After a pair of walks, Kris Bryant smacked this two-run double [VIDEO].

KB was then caught trying to take third on a ball that didn’t get too far away from Rockies catcher Josh Fuentes, which cost the Cubs a run because Joc followed with his first homer of the day [VIDEO].

Opposite field:

The Cubs added a run in the second after a pair of singles. Nico Hoerner drove in the run with an RBI groundout. The Rockies cut the lead to 4-3 with a three-run second off Hendricks, including a home run by Dom Nunez.

Pederson got one of those runs back in the third with his second blast of the afternoon [VIDEO].

That ball was crushed off a hanging curveball:

In the sixth, Pederson lined a single to right, his third hit of the game, and Javier Baez joined the home-run parade [VIDEO].

You can always tell when Javy knows he nailed one — watch how he watches this one, which went a long way:

The Cubs added a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Trent Giambrone, after all the starting players were lifted.

Shelby Miller threw two decent innings. He did issue a pair of walks and allowed an unearned run on an error charged to Patrick Wisdom, but then induced a double-play ball. The important thing is that Miller looks healthy and not bothered by any of the injuries that have ruined his career for the last five years. He might not make the Opening Day roster, but if he’ll agree to go to Iowa, he could be good rotation depth.

Rex Brothers and Jason Adam threw scoreless innings in relief. James Norwood was touched up for a run in the ninth and left with the bases loaded. At times he touched 100 miles per hour in his 28 pitches. Norwood has talent, but has never quite been able to harness command, otherwise he’d likely make this year’s bullpen. Brendon Little entered with the bases loaded and two out and struck out Elehuris Montero — one of the guys the Rockies received from the Cardinals in the Nolan Arenado deal — to end the game.

Pederson is hitting .529/.600/1.471 (9-for-17) this spring with five home runs, eight runs scored and a 2.071 OPS (essentially, that means Pederson has averaged a double for every at-bat he’s had). He’s also walked three times and struck out only four. The five homers is tied with Joey Gallo of the Rangers for the most for any player this spring. Spring stats, yes, plus small sample size, but he really does look locked in. Hoping for a big season from Joc.

Weather permitting — and the forecast isn’t good — the Cubs will take on the Brewers at Sloan Park Friday afternoon. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to make his first Sloan Park appearance in his second stint with the Cubs, and Brandon Woodruff will start for Milwaukee. Game time is 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.