Chicago Cubs score early, hang on to beat Padres

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs reliever Pedro Strop celebrates the last out against the San Diego Padres on Saturday. The one constant for the Cubs this year has been the bullpen. The relievers were perfect Saturday as they nailed down a 5-4 victory over the Padres at Wrigley Field.

    Cubs reliever Pedro Strop celebrates the last out against the San Diego Padres on Saturday. The one constant for the Cubs this year has been the bullpen. The relievers were perfect Saturday as they nailed down a 5-4 victory over the Padres at Wrigley Field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/4/2018 6:45 PM

Even with all the changes, injuries and minor-league call-ups, the one constant for the Chicago Cubs this year has been a good bullpen.

On Saturday it was not only good. It was perfect.

 

The Cubs got 3⅓ innings of spotless relief from Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Pedro Strop as they preserved a 1-run lead and allowed starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks to get the "W" in a 5-4 victory over the San Diego Padres at steamy Wrigley Field.

"I feel like we have pretty much done it for the most part all year long," said Cishek, who relieved Hendricks with two outs in the sixth inning and got the final out before striking out the side in the seventh.

"Throughout the course of the year, we've become a tight-knit group. It's a pretty laid-back team. In the bullpen, it's like that until about the fourth, fifth inning, and it starts becoming our time to be out there, and everyone gets locked in."

For the season, the Cubs' bullpen has a 3.27 ERA, compared with 4.10 for the starters.

The Cubs have continued that good work even with closer Brandon Morrow on the disabled list for the second time this season.

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The "old man" of the group is Pedro Strop, who has been with the Cubs since coming over in midseason trade from Baltimore in 2013.

After a 26-pitch save in a shaky outing Friday, Strop needed only 12 pitches Saturday, going 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts to end the game. He picked up his seventh save of the season.

"I always do have a lot of energy," he said. "Sometimes stuff doesn't go your way, and you've just got to battle. (Friday) was a battle for me. I feel happy that I was able to save that game and get my team that win, which was really important for me and the team.

"Today, I just simplified. Just try to execute my pitches and keep it as short as possible."

Strop has set up for the likes of Morrow, Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman and Hector Rondon over the years.

"Yeah, man, I've been here a couple years, and I've had really good guys through those years," Strop said. "We have a pretty special group this year, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have a really, really good mix with young and veteran guys. And they keep adding more veteran guys. It's good for us. We feel we are set in that bullpen, and we feel like we can compete with any bullpen in the league.

"We have fun in this bullpen. I don't want to go home 10 years from now, and when my kids ask me, 'Hey, Papi, did you have fun when you played?' I want to say yes."

Hendricks ran his record to 8-9 with a 4.07 ERA as he gave up 5 hits and 4 runs over his 5⅔ innings. The offense staked him to a 5-0 lead in the second before he allowed 3 in the fourth. He was appreciative of the relief.

"One hundred percent," he said. "They were huge. It didn't look like a 1-run ballgame the way they were pitching, coming in and attacking the strike zone. They made huge pitches when they needed to. Yeah, that was awesome to see for us today."

Forgive the hitters if they were feeling a little left out on this hitters day, with a gametime temperature of 93 degrees and the wind blowing straight out.

Kyle Schwarber started the 5-run second against Walker Lockett with a booming home run to right-center. It was Schwarber's 20th of the season. Anthony Rizzo homered for the second time in two days, giving him 17 for the season, when he hit a 2-run shot over the shrubbery in center field later in the second.

But Rizzo deferred to the pen.

"It was nice to get Kyle the win there," he said. "Tough day to pitch. We scored early, and we held on. Consistent. They (relievers) come into the game, and if you rewind four or five years ago, you're sometimes scratching your head with people coming in. But on this team, everyone who comes into the game, we have confidence in them.

"It's pretty unique. You usually don't have that on every team."

• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.

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