CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks didn't throw any pitches over 90 mph on Friday. None of his 88 pitches even registered at 90. Yet the right-hander dominated the Giants over seven innings and Benjamin Zobrist delivered a tie-breaking two-run double in the seventh to lift the Cubs to a 6-2 victory
CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks didn't throw any pitches over 90 mph on Friday. None of his 88 pitches even registered at 90. Yet the right-hander dominated the Giants over seven innings and Benjamin Zobrist delivered a tie-breaking two-run double in the seventh to lift the Cubs to a 6-2 victory at Wrigley Field.
"It was Kyle's day, and he gave us a chance to win that game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He kept it in check for us as long as he did."
Hendricks retired the first nine batters he faced before Gorkys Hernandez collected the first hit and run off the right-hander by leading off the Giants' fourth inning with his fifth home run. The hit had a higher exit velocity (93 mph) than any of Hendricks' pitches, according to Statcast™. Hernandez also singled with two outs in the sixth for the only other hit off Hendricks.
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"I made better pitches today," Hendricks said. "In the past, I was throwing about the same, but too many bad pitches. The only [bad] one was 0-2 to Hernandez, I didn't bury it enough down and in. Other than that, I executed what I was trying to do. In that sense, it was the best-executed game for me."
Maybe Hendricks was motivated after his last outing in Cincinnati when he showed some emotion, unhappy with the results. That's unusual for the stoic pitcher. On Friday, it was vintage Hendricks.
"He's so steady," Maddon said. "He's just the same guy. Right now, Kyle is throwing the ball as well as I've seen him throw the ball. The numbers are good. That high 86-87 [mph], occasionally 88 [mph fastball], because off of that, here comes that magnificent changeup. I'm a curveball fan. I still like that activated a couple more times. But, he just knows what he's doing.
"I just think he's on top of his game right now."
The Giants have seen this before. In Hendricks' last four starts against them, he's given up five earned runs over 24 innings.
"He's always tough," Brandon Crawford said. "He always keeps you off balance with the changeup, and then the changeup makes the fastball kind of sneaky. He was dotting that outside corner with that two-seamer to righties."
How much did Hendricks mix it up? During a six-pitch at-bat against Brandon Belt in the seventh, the right-hander started with a 70-mph curve, included an 88-mph sinker and finished with a 79.8-mph changeup that the Giants' first baseman launched to the warning track in right.
"That was one where I thought the ball might be flying -- hot day, wind blowing out, ball in the air," Hendricks said. "I thought I gave up a couple maybe, but it was not great contact. I was still making great pitches. We just need to keep on doing the things I've been doing."
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first on Anthony Rizzo's RBI single off Giants starter Derek Holland, who otherwise avoided trouble until the seventh, when he hit Javier Baez with a pitch and then walked Ian Happ. Holland was lifted for Will Smith, and both runners advanced on Addison Russell's perfectly placed sacrifice.
"There was a point in that count when I wanted to take it off and we didn't get the sign right, but then he came back to it," Maddon said of Russell's bunt. "Sometimes it happens for a reason. Perfect bunt by him."
Said Russell: "I wanted to make sure it was a good pitch to execute. It was a great feeling -- I felt like that was the turning point."
Smith then walked pinch-hitter Thomas La Stella on four pitches, and Zobrist lined the first pitch he saw from Smith to left to put the Cubs in front, 3-1. Cory Gearrin took over, and Kristopher Bryant greeted him with a two-run single.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr. singled to open the Chicago first, and both advanced on a passed ball by Buster Posey. One out later, Zobrist scored on Rizzo's single, but Almora was easily thrown out by left fielder Mac Williamson, who fired a 94.6-mph strike home.
Hendricks gave up two hits over seven innings, giving him eight straight starts of three or fewer earned runs allowed.
HE SAID IT
"The game went pretty quick, and [Hendricks] threw a lot of strikes and that's really what keeps us on our toes out there and makes the game go by quickly and allows us to focus on our at-bats at the plate. It's big when you're playing behind that. It really gives you a lot of motivation late in the game. When you don't have the lead, you want to get the lead back for a guy like that and get the 'W.'" -- Zobrist
Jose Quintana will start Saturday night. He's coming off a stellar outing against the Reds in which he gave up one hit over seven scoreless innings. This will be his third career start vs. the Giants. He's 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA so far, with both games at AT&T Park. Fastball command was the key in his last outing. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.