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Hendricks regains edge with scoreless start

Righty sharp over 6-plus, enjoys rapport with Caratini
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks looked more like he did in 2016, which is good news for the Cubs. The right-hander threw six-plus scoreless innings Tuesday night and did not get a decision in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Reds.

"That was more typical of Kyle," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks, who has been trying to get back on track after being on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right hand. "He had greater velocity, great location, every pitch was working, [threw his] curveball for a strike, threw the four-seamer really well up to 87 [mph]. Everything was right on."

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CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks looked more like he did in 2016, which is good news for the Cubs. The right-hander threw six-plus scoreless innings Tuesday night and did not get a decision in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Reds.

"That was more typical of Kyle," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks, who has been trying to get back on track after being on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right hand. "He had greater velocity, great location, every pitch was working, [threw his] curveball for a strike, threw the four-seamer really well up to 87 [mph]. Everything was right on."

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In five starts since returning from the DL, Hendricks has posted a 2.00 ERA, giving up six earned runs over 27 innings. Last year, he led the Major Leagues with a 2.13 ERA.

"It was a lot better tonight -- all the things I've been working on came to fruition," Hendricks said. "Fastball command, No. 1, was good, and that's always the key for me. From there, the changeup felt good. I even threw a few good curveballs. The ones I threw were effective. It was a lot of fun today with [rookie catcher Victor Caratini]. He did a good job communicating with me between innings."

Video: CIN@CHC: Hendricks K's Winker, strands two runners

Hendricks and Caratini were even able to laugh as they walked off the field at the end of an inning.

"I do remember us walking off and laughing after a strikeout, and it was a pitch he called and I really wanted," Hendricks said. "It was one of those [times when you're] reading each other's minds. We had a chuckle about it. As the game went on, I saw more and more of those. He was committed to a pitch and it was what I wanted. That's why it was fun out there, just being on the same page."

Caratini was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to help fill in the gap while Willson Contreras heals from a right hamstring strain.

Hendricks also was able to contain Reds speedster Billy Hamilton. In the fifth, Hamilton singled with two outs, but Hendricks picked him off with a well-timed throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to end the inning.

Video: CIN@CHC: Hendricks uses nice move, picks off Hamilton

Hamilton did get some payback against the Cubs in the ninth inning, when he swiped his MLB-leading 50th base.

For Hendricks, it was an outing to build on.

"It's been tough since I've come back from the DL," the right-hander said. "I've been pitching in a lot of tight games, so sometimes I lose my aggressiveness just trying to keep the team in the game and stay close and not give in. Today, I think I did a much better job being aggressive, still in the strike zone, even in a tight game, trying to get quick outs so I could keep the pitch count down."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Kyle Hendricks