Cubs sweep Padres behind Hendricks's quality start


by - Senior Writer -
Kyle Hendricks currently sports the lowest ERA (2.19) in the Big Leagues.
Kyle Hendricks currently sports the lowest ERA (2.19) in the Big Leagues.

SAN DIEGO -- A three-run first inning proved to be all that Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks needed on Wednesday afternoon, as he pitched six innings of four-hit ball and led the Cubs to a 6-3 victory and a three-game road sweep of the San Diego Padres. Second baseman Ben Zobrist manned the offensive front for the Cubs, going 2-4 and driving in two runs.

Padres starting pitcher Paul Clemens definitely did not live up to his last name this afternoon, as he was far from being the “Rocket” on the mound facing off against the Cubs. Chicago center fielder Dexter Fowler opened the game with a double to deep right, his lone hit of the day, and Kris Bryant, who served as the starting first baseman today with Anthony Rizzo resting, reciprocated with a double of his own. Zobrist proceeded to score both runners with a triple toward the wall, and he was then brought home by way of a sacrifice fly from left fielder Jorge Soler, providing the Cubs with an early 3-0 lead.

Hendricks only allowed two runs in his solid start, both of which involved triples. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf tripled to lead off the bottom of the second, and he was scored soon after via a sacrifice fly. After a leadoff single in the bottom of the ensuing inning, young Padres star Wil Myers brought a run across the plate with a booming triple to deep center, thus making the score 3-2 in favor of the Cubs.

A comedy of San Diego errors enabled Chicago to put two more runs on the board in the top of the sixth. With one out and runners on first and second, a wild pitch by Clemens advanced both runners a base, and, thereafter, a mishandled ball on behalf of Padres shortstop Luis Sardinas allowed two runs to score. A costly error, Sardinas’s mishap gave the Cubs a sizable 5-2 lead.

Rookie Cubs catcher Willson Contreras increased that lead in the following inning with a 387-foot homer over the wall in right field of Petco Park. His eighth home run of the season, Contreras’s round-tripper pushed the Cubs’ lead to four runs.

Despite an RBI double from Schimpf in the eighth inning, the Padres never threatened the Cubs’ lead following Contreras’s home run, and Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman earned his ninth save as a Cub by mowing through the Padres’ batting order in the bottom of the ninth. Hendricks earned the win to move to 12-7 overall. His 2.19 ERA leads all Major League pitchers. Clemens accrued the loss to drop to 2-3 on the year.

Moving to 81-45 overall with their 6-3 win over the 53-74 Padres, the Cubs now stand 14 games atop the National League Central standings and are also 36 games over .500 for the first time since 1945.

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