PHOENIX (AP) — Kyle Hendricks received a standing ovation from Chicago Cubs fans in Arizona for merely laying down a sacrifice bunt in the top of the ninth inning.
He earned all that applause away from home with the way he pitched on the mound.
Hendricks took a one-hit shutout into the ninth and the Cubs stifled the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 5-1 win Monday night to open their important three-game series.
Hendricks (12-11) struck out eight and walked one. A.J. Pollock hit a leadoff homer against him in the ninth and Paul Goldschmidt added a two-out single before Justin Wilson completed the three-hitter.
“It happens. I thought I threw only one bad pitch,” Hendricks said. “I got away with a couple. It started with fastball command.
“Got some quick outs and kept the pitch count down,” he added. “I’d rather get a standing ovation for something else. It’s a treat to be able to go on the road and have our fans travel so well.”
Javier Baez homered in Chicago’s three-run sixth that broke open a pitchers’ duel between Hendricks and Patrick Corbin (11-6).
“I wasn’t as good as their starter tonight,” Corbin said. “Just left the breaking ball up to a hitter that can do damage.”
Kris Bryant also homered, and the Cubs maintained their 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central after second-place Milwaukee beat Cincinnati earlier.
The fading Diamondbacks led the NL West when the month began but ended the day five games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. Arizona has lost three straight and eight of 10 to fall five games out of the second wild card as well.
“This is a grinding time right now, there’s no doubt about it,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We still have life, and I want these guys to know that I believe in them. They believe in themselves as well I’m sure, and if they doubt it, that their teammate next to them is going to be working just as hard to pull them along and make sure everything’s going to be OK.”
The Cubs were struggling on offense, coming off a weekend series in which they scored only five runs in three games against last-place Cincinnati. They thrilled a largely pro-Chicago crowd at Chase Field in the sixth, when Albert Almora Jr. and Bryant opened with back-to-back singles. Bryant worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Corbin before his base hit that moved Almora to third base.
Anthony Rizzo beat out a replay-overturned double play to drive in Almora, and Baez followed with a line drive into the seats in left-center to make it 3-0.
Thousands of blue-and-white-clad Cubs fans roared as Baez rounded the bases. Baez acknowledged he was upset about his first two at-bats against Corbin, a strikeout and a groundout.
“I was just really mad at myself that I wasn’t making adjustments,” Baez said.
Bryant went opposite field for his 12th home run, a two-run shot in the eighth off reliever Randall Delgado. It was his first home run since July 20.
“It’s always about feel, so hopefully he gained some feel from that,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras ran hard after making contact in his at-bats, including on a deep fly to center in the fourth that was caught. Maddon criticized Contreras for admiring a long drive that ended up a double during a 2-1 loss to the Reds on Sunday. Maddon said Monday he thought the criticism had gotten out of hand.
Players from the NBA’s Phoenix Suns were introduced before the game, as the Diamondbacks recognized their downtown neighbors whose season opens next month. Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Mikal Bridges, Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton and Shaquille Harrison were in attendance, with Ariza throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Cubs: OF Kyle Schwarber and INF Tommy La Stella did not make the trip to Phoenix due to back injuries. … RHP Brandon Morrow (forerarm) could return from the disabled list in the next few days. He’s been out since mid-July. … SS Addison Russell was checked by a trainer after stretching across second base in an attempt to complete a double play in the fifth. He stayed in the game.
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (4-5) is set to face Arizona on Tuesday night, his career-high 17th start of the season.
Diamondbacks: RHP Matt Andriese is slated to start Tuesday against the Cubs. Andriese (3-5) started four games for Tampa Bay before being traded to the Diamondbacks.