Chicago Cubs pitching solid again, but bats fail in clutch

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Kyle Hendricks spun 7 shutout innings. But even that wasn't enough as the Cubs fell 1-0 to the White Sox on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by pinch hitter J.B. Shuck against reliever Hector Rondon.

    Kyle Hendricks spun 7 shutout innings. But even that wasn't enough as the Cubs fell 1-0 to the White Sox on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by pinch hitter J.B. Shuck against reliever Hector Rondon. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/11/2015 12:48 AM

What's all this talk of the Cubs needing starting pitching?

Outside of the fifth spot in the rotation, the rest of it has been pretty solid.

 

That was the case again Friday when Kyle Hendricks spun 7 shutout innings. But even that wasn't enough as the Cubs fell 1-0 to the White Sox on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by pinch hitter J.B. Shuck against reliever Hector Rondon.

Right now, the offense has been having a hard time putting things together consistently despite a winning record.

Against the Sox, the Cubs managed just 3 hits. They also were victimized by 5 double plays, 3 by ground, 1 by air and 1 by strikeout-caught stealing.

"A little non-fortuitous today," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team fell to 46-39 with its second straight loss. "We had certain moments happen. It happens. We'll show up tomorrow, I promise. We'll be ready to play tomorrow. It's a tough loss, two in a row, but that's how this game works sometimes."

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer met with the media for a few minutes before the game. He acknowledged that the Cubs are on the lookout for pitching as the July 31 nonwaiver deadline approaches rapidly.

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Offense is harder to find, and the Cubs are going to have to muster it from within, which means players stepping up.

"Offensively, our bench has been banged up a lot; we've had some injuries there," Hoyer said. "But for the most part, I think we have the pieces here to have a good offense. We have some guys who have been struggling, especially over the last three weeks. I think we're fortunate. We've won a lot of games, some low-scoring games over the last three weeks, to probably hide a little bit of our offensive struggles.

"We've got to get back to scoring runs. Facing some lefties, that may help us. These guys (the White Sox) have a really good pitching staff. That (offensive) help is not going to come from the outside. We know we're going to have to have some guys with good track records sort of get back to where they belong, and I think that'll happen. Every team goes through stretches of the season where they don't score runs, and we're sort of in that stretch right now."

Starlin Castro was 0-for-3 with 2 double plays. He's 2-for-26 on the homestand. Leadoff man Dexter Fowler (.228) was called out on strikes three times.

Things were good on the mound. Hendricks, who was inconsistent earlier this season, extended a scoreless-innings streak to a career-high 22⅓ innings, dating to the fourth inning of the June 24 game against the Dodgers. He has not allowed a run in his last 3 starts, becoming the first Cubs starter to do that since Ryan Dempster in 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've felt sharper," Hendricks said. "I still don't feel 100 percent sharp, but as far as my mentality right now, I think it's as good as it's maybe ever been since I've been up. Just that simple mentality that I've been talking about. I've really stuck to it and done a good job with it. Try to go into the (all-star) break and keep it going when we come back."

As for getting more pitching, Hoyer said he and team president Theo Epstein are looking to add depth but that things aren't happening right now.

"We've made a lot of phone calls like everyone has," he said. "I don't think things have kicked off yet as far as the trade market. I still think this will be a tighter market than usual early on just because the American League is so jumbled up. I don't think teams have declared themselves yet, if you will. The National League is a little bit different, but I think it will take some time to break through.

"Maybe after the all-star break that will happen a little bit."

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