Major league ERA leader Hendricks pitches Cubs past Padres
SAN DIEGO (AP) Kyle Hendricks has another weapon, although it's not a pitch.
It was on display when the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 to complete a three-game sweep on Wednesday.
''It's confidence,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''The biggest thing from last year to this year is the confidence thing. I think he believes he is one of the best right now.''
Hendricks, the major league ERA leader, pitched six effective innings to pace the Cubs.
''Maybe he wasn't as sharp as usual, but he was really good,'' Maddon said.
Hendricks (12-7) gave up two runs and four hits, striking out eight and leaving with a 2.19 ERA. He has allowed no more than three earned runs in 17 straight starts.
Over that span, Hendricks has pitched to a 1.70 ERA.
''Today I had some bad at the beginning and some good at the end,'' he said. ''I had both ends of the spectrum there.
''At the beginning my command was a little off. I finally started getting the ball down and found the movement on my two-seamer and started spotting that better. I was one roll from there.''
Three Cubs relievers took over for the NL Central leaders, with Aroldis Chapman pitching the ninth for his 29th save in 32 chances.
''I knew (Hendricks) was going to be really good this year but he has taken it to another level,'' Maddon said.
Willson Contreras homered and Ben Zobrist drove in two runs as the Cubs won for the 22nd time in 27 games. At 81-45, they are 36 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 1945 season at 98-56.
''That was really loud,'' Maddon said of Contreras' blast. ''You knew that was a home run when he hit it.''
The Padres have dropped nine of their past 12. Paul Clemens (2-3) took the loss.
Jorge Soler and Addison Russell also drove in runs for the Cubs as they scored at least three runs for the 23rd consecutive game, second this season only to the Baltimore Orioles (28).
Ryan Schimpf tripled and doubled for the Padres.
The Cubs started fast when Dexter Fowler led off the game with a double and Kris Bryant nearly launched his third homer of the series. Instead, his drive hit the top of the wall and ended up being a long single.
''Kris Bryant is a tough hitter,'' Padres manager Andy Green said. ''Some guys have lanes you can pitch through, some hitters have small little holes. Kris Bryant has small holes.''
Zobrist then hit a two-run triple and scored on Soler's sacrifice fly.
''That's been the story of the last two outings, that first inning,'' Clemens said. ''Maybe I just got to wind myself up more in the bullpen.''
Maddon said jumping ahead was a key.
''We came out nicely in the first inning and that gave us the edge,'' he said. ''And Kyle ran with it from there.''
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-1, 2.77) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. He makes his second start for the Cubs, after taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.
Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.54) opens Friday's three-game set at Miami. He was traded from the Marlins to San Diego last month.