Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks has the lowest Earned Run Average among qualified pitchers and Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates found out why.
All Hendricks (13-7) did was allow three hits in seven innings lowering his ERA to 2.09 as the Cubs bested the Pirates, 3-0.
This victory put the Cubs at 21-6 in August, and the 21 wins is the most in a month since May 1977. Meanwhile, the Pirates now fall to 3-11 against the Cubs this season.
All the runs needed for Kendrick occurred in the first inning.
Javier Baez led off the bottom half getting hit by an 0-2 pitch. Two batters later, Anthony Rizzo hit a 2-2 sinker over the right field wall for his 26th home run of the season.
In the second inning, Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl walked Addison Russell to lead off the frame. Russell then stole second base, and Miguel Montero singled him home.
This was an uncharacteristic outing for Kuhl (3-2). For one, he is an extreme ground ball pitcher and had as many ground ball outs as fly ball outs with four. Secondly, Kuhl saw his streak of six-inning starts end at five.
Kuhl departed after five innings having allowed all three Cubs runs on four hits while throwing 91 pitches.
Hendricks meanwhile set down the first nine Pirates batters he faced in order before walking Josh Harrison to lead off the fourth inning.
Two Pirates reached second base against Hendricks.
The first was pinch-hitter John Jaso, who hit his 20th double this season with two outs in the sixth inning. The second was Gregory Polanco, who reached by grounding into a force out and stealing second base with two outs.
Hendricks also was able to pick off Harrison at first base, and Starling Marte was caught stealing second base.
When Carl Edwards Jr. replaced Hendricks in the eighth inning, he allowed a two out double to Jordy Mercer. With Harrison representing the tying run on-deck, Edwards Jr. got pinch-hitter Matt Joyce to line out deep into the left-center field gap.
Aroldis Chapman set the Pirates down in order to end the game, earning his 31st save.
This series concludes Wednesday night with Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA) facing Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.50 ERA). Vogelsong is 5-7 with a 5.60 ERA in 20 career appearances (12 starts). He has made two relief appearances against the Cubs this season, and he has allowed a run in 3.1 innings.
Photo credit: @Pirates