CHICAGO (AP) — After dealing with ups and downs this season, Kyle Hendricks feels like he’s in a groove.
Hendricks allowed two hits in seven innings, David Bote and Kyle Schwarber homered and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep.
“My mechanics feel good now. Ball’s doing what I want it to,” said Hendricks, who is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in his last 11 starts. “Now it’s just concentration on making the good pitch, every pitch you’re out there. My fastball command has been a lot better, and everything works better off that.”
Jason Heyward went 4 for 4 with a triple and drove in two runs for the NL Central-leading Cubs. Bote added two hits and three RBIs.
Hendricks (10-10) struck out five and walked one. He has given up two runs in his last 14 innings.
“I didn’t make many bad pitches at all and really changed speeds well,” Hendricks said. “(Catcher) Willson (Contreras) had a great game plan back there, calling good pitches.”
Hendricks — who was 1-4 with a 7.03 ERA in June — said his change-up has been more effective.
“Earlier in the season, I wasn’t able to locate my fastball, so they kind of saw the change-ups,” he said.
Tucker Barnhart had two hits for the last-place Reds, who have dropped five straight and been shut out nine times.
“They dominated us these four games, and you just have to take the day off and hopefully come back with the same energy but get different results,” manager Jim Riggleman said.
The Cubs have homered in a season-high 11 straight games and won five straight.
Hendricks was lifted for a pinch-hitter after throwing 98 pitches. Randy Rosario worked the final two innings to complete the three-hitter.
A balk by Robert Stephenson scored Anthony Rizzo in the seventh inning before Schwarber smacked a two-run home run to right field, his 24th of the season.
Bote hit a two-run homer over the left-field bleachers for a 5-0 lead in the third. Five of his six home runs this season have given the Cubs the lead or tied a game. Bote’s previous homer was a walk-off against the Reds in the 10th inning on Friday.
The Cubs scored three unearned runs in the first. Heyward tripled to bring in a run when center fielder Billy Hamilton fell trying to catch his line drive.
“Jason just spun that ball, and I understand it looked like it was going to go right at him and it just hit that other gear and he slipped,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was fortuitous for us because Billy’s that good.”
Heyward’s single drove in another run in the fifth inning. He was 0 for 14 in his previous three games.
Homer Bailey (1-12) allowed six runs — three earned — and eight hits in five innings to remain winless since May 12. The Reds have lost 17 of his 18 starts.
“With all due respect to that lineup over there — they’ve got a really good lineup — but today there was numerous balls that were off the end of the bat, broken bats, bloops,” Riggleman said. “If it could go wrong, it went wrong.
“As the game progressed, they squared up on a couple. But overall Homer threw very well. The numbers will never indicate that.”
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (lower right leg) was eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list Sunday but won’t return to the field until Tuesday against Milwaukee at the earliest. Riggleman said the injury is affecting Votto’s ability to run and play in the field.
Cubs: 3B/OF Kris Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) and RHP Tyler Chatwood (left hip tightness) will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Iowa on Monday. Bryant took batting practice Sunday and has been on the DL since July 24. The Cubs can make room for him on the roster if he’s ready before rosters expand Saturday, Maddon said. … Closer Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) was scheduled to play catch Sunday.
Without an off day until Sept. 13, the Cubs will use a six-man rotation for at least one turn. LHP Mike Montgomery — who is on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation — is expected to start Thursday in Atlanta. RHP Alec Mills — who joined the rotation to fill in for the injured Chatwood — will start Wednesday against the Mets.
Reds: After a day off, RHP Anthony DeSclafani (6-4, 4.26 ERA) is set to start Tuesday against visiting Milwaukee and RHP Junior Guerra (6-8, 3.72) to begin a three-game series.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (14-5, 3.64) is scheduled to start against the visiting Mets and RHP Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.38) to open a three-game series Monday.
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