SAN FRANCISCO -- Cubs starter Jose Quintana (8-6) watched from the first-base dugout Monday night as rotation counterpart Kyle Hendricks threw 8 1/3 innings of nearly flawless baseball against the Giants. Manager Joe Maddon suggested afterwards that Hendricks' outing was a harbinger of starts to come."Going forward, that becomes contagious
SAN FRANCISCO -- Cubs starter Jose Quintana (8-6) watched from the first-base dugout Monday night as rotation counterpart Kyle Hendricks threw 8 1/3 innings of nearly flawless baseball against the Giants. Manager Joe Maddon suggested afterwards that Hendricks' outing was a harbinger of starts to come.
"Going forward, that becomes contagious sometimes," he said, "when you've got a guy that pitches like that."
In Tuesday's 2-0 win, Quintana validated his manager's comments and built off the momentum Hendricks created in the series opener.
The left-hander pitched six shutout frames, striking out three and walking two in what was undeniably his best start since May 31. He got ahead of hitters early, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first 10 Giants he faced; Quintana entered Tuesday night with a 65.8 first-pitch strike rate this season.
"I said to Kyle, 'I'll try to follow you,'" Quintana said. "I try to throw like him or when Jonny [Lester] pitches good. It's really good competition for us."
Quintana threw like himself on Tuesday, successfully pitching to contact. Despite generating only six swinging strikes all game, he made up for it with 10 ground-ball outs.
"Early on, the fastball had great carry, I thought," Maddon said. "The curveball, much sharper. The difference for me was the curveball strike, the curveball command, the curveball chase. That was a part of his repertoire tonight, whereas that has not been part of it."
Quintana flirted with fire in the form of a single and a walk to open the fourth, but niftily worked his way out of trouble. The lefty induced a 6-4-3 double play and then retired NL All-Star starter Brandon Crawford to end the threat.
The Cubs' offense was finally able to pick up Quintana in the seventh with aggressive baserunning. Addison Russell manufactured the first run of the game, slicing a one-out hustle double to right-center and scoring on a sequence that featured both a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Three batters later, Victor Caratini followed Ian Happ's two-out walk by cracking an RBI double off the wall in right field.
Before Tuesday, each of the Cubs' last nine wins had been comeback victories, but the bullpen ensured there were no late-inning fireworks at AT&T Park on Tuesday. Right-hander C.J. Edwards struck out the side in the seventh, lefty Justin Wilson pitched a perfect eighth and, with closer Brandon Morrow unavailable for a routine day off, Steve Cishek threw a scoreless ninth to convert his third save.
Maddon praised his entire bullpen, in particular Edwards Jr., who generated seven swinging strikes in a 12-pitch inning.
"He was much more fluid in his delivery," Maddon said. "He wasn't trying to be too quick at the end of it. It was really nice to watch. That's what he can look like. That's what he's capable of doing. That was not an anomaly moment. He is capable of that on a consistent basis."
After scoring a total of three runs in the first two games of the three-game series, the Cubs will activate third baseman Kristopher Bryant from the disabled list Wednesday.
"Hopefully, we have KB tomorrow, and I know we're going to take off soon and be back on track," second baseman Javier Baez said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the seventh inning, Russell got a terrific read on a slider that Sam Dyson bounced in the dirt, instinctively taking off for third. When Nick Hundley's throw to third sailed wide, Russell scored what would be the game's winning run.
"The one pitch when Addi took off to third was huge," Baez said. "I thought we were going to win 1-0, and then Caratini hit the double. It was really big."
This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Cubs acquiring Quintana. With six scoreless innings Tuesday, the left-hander continued his stellar road splits. He entered the start with a 3.04 road ERA in 16 starts as a Cub.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Baez had another tremendous game in the field. He ranged to his left and made a sliding stop to rob Hunter Pence of a leadoff single in the fifth.
One inning later, Baez and Quintana combined for a smooth double play. Quintana snared Andrew McCutchen's comebacker destined for center and led Baez to the second-base bag, and Baez then effortlessly made an off-balanced throw across his body to turn two.
HE SAID IT
"Oh yeah. But at the same time, we miss KB and we need him. I'll bat wherever. I'll bat 12th in the lineup if I have to." -- Baez, when asked if he likes hitting third
The Cubs will hand the ball to Mike Montgomery for the series finale Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. CT at AT&T Park. In his previous start, against Cincinnati, the lefty only made it through five innings and took the loss. Montgomery will look to revert to his June form, a month in which he accumulated a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings of work. The Giants will counter with Johnny Cueto, who was originally scheduled to pitch Tuesday but received an extra day of rest before his second start off the disabled list.
Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @MartinOppegaard.