By Paul Skrbina/Chicago Tribune
Kyle Hendricks added some more K’s to his name Sunday.
A career-best 12 strikeouts, to be precise.
Willson Contreras added his first career home run in his first career at-bat, when he pinch hit for Hendricks in the sixth and deposited the first pitch he saw from A.J. Schugel over the wall in center field.
In the end, the Cubs swept a three-game series from the Pirates with a 10-5 victory in front of 41,024 on Father’s Day night at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks left to a standing ovation after striking out catcher Jason Stallings to end the sixth. Hendricks allowed one run on seven hits with no walks.
The Wrigley crowd unravelled again soon after, when Contreras became the fourth Cub to homer in the game.
Contreras briefly admired the beauty before rounding the bases. He was met by an embrace from fellow rookie Albert Almora Jr. in the dugout before taking a curtain call.
“I was ready to hit the first pitch,” said Contreras, who bolted to the bullpen to warm up some relief pitchers after his cameo.
“It’s incredible. I don’t have the words to explain it.”
Contreras’ home run, a two-run shot, gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead and followed long balls by Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Baez belted his in the second, the first of his three hits.
“(Baez is) making significant strides already in just not going up and swinging out of control like three pitches every at-bat,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “The moment he arrives at the plate, like he is defensively ... you’re really going to like this whole thing.”
A night after reaching Waveland Avenue with a 448-foot shot, Bryant hit one into the basket in left to lead off the third against Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon. Rizzo followed, marking the second consecutive game, and ninth overall, the duo went back-to-back.
That power surge pushed the Cubs’ lead to 4-0. Addison Russell added the Cubs’ fifth homer of the game in a four-run seventh to make it 10-4.
After the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen center fielder was caught looking at strike three to end the top of the fifth, the 11th of Hendricks’ strikeouts, he stood bemused in the right-handed batter’s box while shedding his helmet, batting gloves and a shin guard.
It was the third time Hendricks fanned McCutchen.
The strikeout line began with Gregory Polano and McCutchen in the first, both via swings. Three more Pirates struck out in the second, and four times Hendricks ended innings with strikeouts – two looking and two swinging.
The lone run off Hendricks was Josh Harrison’s home run with two outs in the third, after Hendricks had struck out Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang to open the inning.
“He was really, really good,” Maddon said.
“Other than (Harrison’s home run), I don’t even know if he did make a mistake.”
The Pirates struck the Cubs bullpen for three runs in the seventh to pull within 6-4. Three Cubs relievers were summoned during the inning, when Marte tripled home two and Kang drove him home.
As the Cubs are wont to do, they answered. Rizzo added his third RBI in the seventh. Bryant then scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 8-4.
Rizzo, Heyward and Baez all finished with three hits in the 14-hit attack.
Atlanta 6 NY Mets 0
Cleveland 3 Chicago White Sox 2 (10 innings)
Miami 3 Colorado 0
San Francisco 5 Tampa Bay 1
Arizona 5 Philadelphia 1
Boston 2 Seattle 1
Baltimore 11 Toronto 6
Houston 6 Cincinnati 0
Minnesota 7 NY Yankees 4
Kansas City 2 Detroit 1
Texas 5 St. Louis 4
LA Angels 2 Oakland 0
LA Dodgers 2 Milwaukee 1
San Diego 6 Washington 3
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