Kyle Hendricks allowed one run over five innings in his second 2023 start and Mike Tauchman's tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth made the Tampa Bay Rays pay for some shoddy defense, sending the host Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night.
Hendricks returned from a shoulder injury last Thursday, allowing five runs - three earned - in 4 1/3 innings against the New York Mets, in his first start since July 5. On Tuesday, he looked more comfortable, yielding only a fifth-inning run, plus six hits and three walks while striking out three.
Then, a Cubs bullpen that had posted an 8.05 ERA in its previous 50 1/3 innings got a stellar inning each from Julian Merryweather (1-0) and Mark Leiter and two from Adbert Alzolay (second save) to claim a second straight one-run win over the MLB-leading Rays.
Chicago had allowed 35 runs during a four-game losing streak entering this series but has held one of the majors' most potent lineups to one in two games.
On Tuesday, Chicago broke a 1-1 tie when Ian Happ led off the sixth against Rays starter Shane McClanahan (8-1) with a double on a miscommunicated pop fly that landed between second baseman Brandon Lowe and right fielder Josh Lowe. Happ scored on the bloop single from Tauchman, who had the lone RBI on Monday in a 1-0 victory over the Rays, who have lost four straight road games.
The Rays threatened out of the gate Tuesday, but Wander Franco was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on Brandon Lowe's infield single in the first. Meanwhile, Nico Hoerner drove the first pitch in the bottom of the first off McClanahan, who yielded six hits and fanned seven over 5 2/3 innings, into the left-field bleachers for a 1-0 Chicago lead.
After failing to get to Hendricks in the first four innings, Tampa Bay finally did in the fifth. Ninth-place hitter Francisco Mejia singled and, after Franco drew a two-out walk, scored on Randy Arozarena's single to left field.
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