With Hendricks on mound, Cubs get best of Rays' ace

This was a familiar story for the Cubs, just a slightly updated version.

The Tampa Bay Rays sent left-hander Shane McClanahan to the mound Tuesday at Wrigley Field. He averaged 97 mph with his fastball and is currently the favorite to win the AL Cy Young.

The Cubs countered with Kyle Hendricks, now a veteran, but still able to fool great hitters. Hendricks averaged 87 mph with his fastball and relied heavily on the 80 mph changeup, throwing it 47% of the time, according to Statcast.

But Hendricks got the job done, like he has for most of his Cubs career. He allowed 1 run and 6 hits over 5 innings, with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts and the Cubs pulled off their second straight 1-run win of the Rays, winning 2-1.

This was Hendricks' second start after taking roughly 10 months off to recover from a right shoulder strain.

"Felt much more like myself from the start," Hendricks said. "Had a much better game plan going in. Felt just much more comfortable out there in general. Back to work this week and just getting everything down in the zone a little better."

This also turned into a great day for the struggling Cubs bullpen. Before the game, the Cubs called up Hayden Wesneski from Iowa to give the relievers a boost, but manager David Ross didn't want to throw him out there right away.

The Cubs ended up getting a two-inning save from Adbert Alzolay, after single innings from Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr.

The Rays managed just one baserunner in the final four innings, while Alzolay struck out four.

"Clean, easy. He was really locked in," Ross said of Alzolay. "The slider looked as sharp as I've seen it in a little while."

Hendricks tacked on more praise for possible Alzolay's best performance of the season.

"You could tell, just had that look in his eye," Hendricks said. "He was nasty. Some of those sliders over 90. He was just letting it eat, being aggressive. That's who he is."

This was also a nice night for Palatine native Mike Tauchman, who collected the game-winning RBI for the second straight day.

Ian Happ led off the sixth with a fortunate double, as his short pop up landed between second baseman Brandon Lowe and right-fielder Josh Lowe. Two outs later, Tauchman dropped a flare to left off McClanahan to put the Cubs up 2-1.

"It's a calm at-bat," Ross said of Tauchman. "Willing to take his walk, the lefties aren't overmatching him, he's able to control the zone. Just the poise. Mike's a guy that's been around in big moments, big markets. I think he sticks to what he does well."

Nico Hoerner led off the bottom of the first with a 367-foot home run, his fourth of the season and one that wouldn't have left any other ballpark in the majors. The Cubs got a break in the top of the inning. On an infield single up the middle by Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco was out trying to score from second.

Replays showed Franco was probably safe, but there was enough doubt to keep it from being overturned by the replay center. Had the original call been safe, that likely would have stood as well.

The Cubs had been 2-10 in 1-run games two days ago, but now have pulled off two squeakers against the team with the best record in the majors.

The Cubs sent reliever Michael Rucker to Iowa, though he was still in the clubhouse before the game. Ross talked about wanting to give Rucker a chance to rest after a pair of multi-inning appearances in the previous five days.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Chicago Cubs closing pitcher Adbert Alzolay right, celebrates with catcher Yan Gomes (15) after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 in a baseball game Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Chicago. Associated Press
Chicago Cubs' Mike Tauchman watches his RBI single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in Chicago. Associated Press
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