Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cubs get to Greinke early, back Hendricks

 Zack Greinke may have the star power and name recognition, but the D-backs ace was overshadowed -- and outpitched -- by Kyle Hendricks on Saturday night as the Cubs won for the fourth time in five games, by a 4-2 margin at Chase Field.
Hendricks changed speeds and kept the Arizona hitters off balance throughout his 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, three of which were singles. The D-backs managed single runs in the fourth, when Chris Owings scored on a wild pitch, and the seventh, on Brandon Drury's RBI double.
"To go out there and really battle him pitch for pitch, and get a hit -- line drive to right, nice at-bat -- so [Hendricks] just had himself a really good evening," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the right-hander, who singled off Greinke to open the second inning.
The Cubs offense, meanwhile, gave Hendricks early breathing room with a three-run first inning and they added to their advantage in the fourth on an RBI double by Ben Zobrist, who finished the game with three hits and reached base four times.
"It's just a really deep lineup," Greinke said. "That's probably the toughest part about it. They've got some damage in the middle, but a lot of teams have damage in the middle. Their lineup is just deeper than most."
Rough starts: It has not been a great beginning of the year for Greinke, who allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings Saturday. That came on the heels of his Opening Day start, in which he allowed seven runs in four innings. On the bright side for Greinke, he allowed just one run after the three-run Chicago first.
"I guess it could have gone worse, but it's been pretty bad," Greinke said of his first two starts. "Should do better." More >
Working on things: Rubby De La Rosa's one-inning stint out of the bullpen was not a sign the D-backs are removing him from the rotation. They were just taking advantage of his normal between-start throwing day to save the bullpen some innings and allow De La Rosa to work on a couple of things.
"He got his work in," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "It was good. It was a positive experience for him out there. There's things he has been wanting to do and he did them. Tempo was better, he just threw his pitches with conviction, which is important."
Fast start: The Cubs didn't waste any time attacking Greinke, sending eight batters to the plate in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo reached out and poked an RBI single to center, Kris Bryant followed with an RBI double and Miguel Montero hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead. Rizzo's single was key, and his first hit this season with two strikes against him in the count (he was 0-for-7 with two strikes prior to that at-bat). Before the game, Maddon said he felt the young Cubs were "better equipped" to handle Greinke.
"Coming off his first start, we didn't want him to settle in," Rizzo said of Greinke. "We were going to try to be aggressive right out of the chute. We did a good job getting those runs early. He ended up settling in and doing what he does against everyone. Those runs were pretty huge for us." More >
Saving grace: Hector Rondon picked up his first save in his first opportunity, and gave the rest of the National League something to think about. He struck out Paul Goldschmidt on a 90-mph changeup to start the ninth, and after David Peralta grounded out, fannedWelington Castillo on a fastball. The changeup is something Rondon worked on this spring.
"I don't use it too much," Rondon said. "I thought I should because the hitters, they know me because I always throw fastball and slider. I know I have to keep something in my pocket, especially against those guys who are really good."
Said Maddon: "That was as good as Rondon has been all spring with the strikeout to Goldschmidt, great pitch. Then he got Castillo with some really good stuff. That's what we saw of Ronnie at the end of last year also."
Cubs: Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will make his second start of the season Sunday in the series finale. He's riding a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to last season. First pitch will be 3:10 p.m. CT.
D-backs: Shelby Miller makes his second start of the season as the D-backs close out a four-game series with the Cubs and a seven-game season-opening homestand Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m. MST at Chase Field.

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