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Hendricks searching for key to turnaround

CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks relies on feel, rather than velocity, and he's having a tough time lately.

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The Cubs right-hander took the loss Wednesday as the Dodgers posted a 5-2 victory at Wrigley Field. Hendricks served up four runs over five innings, and this month, he has a 5.88 ERA (17 earned runs over 26 innings) after posting a 2.81 ERA in May.

"I think he's still young, inexperienced," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "He understands what he's doing, but to take that understanding and make it reality on a consistent basis this year -- because I guess he was really good last year. If he did it before, he'll do it again. I have a lot of faith in him."

Hendricks was 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA in 13 starts his rookie season in 2014. Wednesday was his 14th start, and he's now 2-4 with a 4.46 ERA.

What's frustrating is that Hendricks posted back-to-back quality starts in May, including a five-hit shutout May 21 against the Padres.

"I just have to make better pitches," Hendricks said. "I thought I was turning it around there for a little bit, and my last two starts, I've given my team zero chances to win, which is pathetic. I've got to do something different."

On Wednesday, he served up two home runs for the first time this season as Adrian Gonzalez led off the second inning with his 13th home run and Justin Turner added a three-run shot in the third. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero blamed wrong pitch selection, and said it wasn't just the pitcher's fault, but a combined effort by the two of them.

"He wasn't really sharp with his command at all," Maddon said of Hendricks, who is winless at Wrigley Field in 2015.

"To these hitters, any mistakes you make, you're going to get hit," Hendricks said.

He's watched video from that San Diego game, trying to find answers.

"You go back and compare mechanics," Hendricks said. "There's not much different. From the video, it all looks similiar. It's just a feel thing. The feel just isn't there. I've got to change something up in my routine, or something I'm doing mentally on the mound. I've got to find something."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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