Hendricks, Rizzo show out as Cubs top Cards for fifth straight win

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by - Senior Writer -
With a bat in his hands, Anthony Rizzo has been a force to be reckoned with as of late. (Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)
With a bat in his hands, Anthony Rizzo has been a force to be reckoned with as of late. (Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO, Ill. — With his fourth home run in the past five games, Chicago Cubs (17-12) first baseman Anthony Rizzo provided the North Siders with the winning hit in their first matchup of the season against the rival St. Louis Cardinals (20-12). Returning home to Wrigley Field after a 5-game road trip for the National League Central duel on Friday afternoon, the Cubs remained hot by winning their fifth in a row. Rizzo's 3-run blast in the bottom of the third proved to be enough for the Cubs, who coasted to a 4-0 victory behind a dominant showing by starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

Hendricks was incredible while toeing the rubber in the series opener of the 3-game set. "The Professor" needed just 81 pitches to close the book on the Cardinals in the shutout win, with the contest lasting just 2 1/2 hours. Hendricks struck out three and gave up four hits in his complete-game outing, and the Redbirds pushed a runner into scoring position only once all afternoon. The 81 pitches were the fewest thrown by an MLB hurler in a complete game since Aaron Cook tossed an 81-pitch complete game in 2012.

The Cubs tallied a modest six hits at the plate but never faced a threat from the Cardinals after Rizzo tabbed his eighth homer of the season in the third frame. Coming against St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty, the 3-run shot traveled 379 feet out to right and scored Daniel Descalso and Kris Bryant, who were walked in the two plate appearances prior to Rizzo's. Rizzo has now homered in four of the Cubs' last five contests, and he boasts 23 RBI on the year.

Chicago shortstop Javier Baez increased his RBI total to 25 when he provided the Cubs with an insurance run on a 2-out single in the seventh. The base knock to right-center brought home Bryant for his second run of the day. Rizzo attempted to add to his highlight reel by trying to steal home after that, but he was tagged out to end the inning. Questionable base running aside, Rizzo was phenomenal in the win, as he went 3-for-3 at the dish with one walk. "Big Rizz" has gone 10-for-21 over the course of the last five games and has increased his OPS from .744 to .933 during that span. With the 4-0 triumph against St. Louis, the Cubbies notched their second consecutive shutout.

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