CHICAGO (AP) Kyle Hendricks hit his spots and kept hitters off balance. It was a command performance at a big moment for the Chicago Cubs.
Hendricks went eight innings, and the NL Central-leading Cubs beat the second-place St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Monday.
Led by Hendricks and a 10-hit attack, Chicago closed out the five-game series on a winning note after losing three straight. It leads the defending division champions by 2 1/2 games.
Hendricks (5-4) gave up a run and seven hits in his second straight win. He also struck out four and walked none in his 38th consecutive start with two walks or less - the most by a Cubs pitcher since at least 1901.
''I didn't know that to be honest with you,'' Hendricks said. ''It's something I'm shooting for, I guess. It's a good result to have, to know that what I'm going out there and trying to do is coming across. I've just got to keep focused on that, keep moving forward and not giving them free bases.''
Hendricks' poise and control have made him one of the Cubs' most reliable pitchers since he debuted in 2014.
''He's a guy that you just can mark it up to consistency every fifth day,'' manager David Ross said. ''That's such a powerful thing in major league baseball, to have a guy that you know is gonna take the bump, give you a solid outing, not gonna beat himself, is gonna keep you in the ballgame. Very poised in any situation. I don't know where this group would be (without him).''
Javier Baez had three singles and scored a run, helping the Cubs earn a split of the 10-game season series against the Cardinals. Jason Kipnis had two hits and drove in a run. Willson Contreras made it 5-0 with a two-run single against Johan Oviedo in the fifth.
Oviedo (0-2) went 4 2/3 innings in his fourth major league start, allowing three earned runs and eight hits.
''This kid's going to be a really good pitcher for us,'' manager Mike Shildt said. ''Oviedo's got not only a bright long-term future, but this guy's going to help us this year. He's got the pitches. He's got the makeup. He's got the competitive spirit.''
Catcher Yadier Molina exited in the sixth with a bruised left elbow. Matt Wieters replaced the nine-time All-Star and drove in St. Louis' lone run with a seventh-inning single. But the Cardinals came up short after matching a season high with three straight wins.
''We're battling,'' Oviedo said. ''As a team, we feel great right now.''
CUBS CLAIM HAMILTON
The Cubs claimed outfielder Billy Hamilton off waivers from the New York Mets.
A career .241 hitter with 302 steals over eight seasons with Cincinnati (2013-18), Kansas City (2019), Atlanta (2019) and New York (2020), Hamilton was 1 for 22 before the Mets designated him for assignment on Friday.
The Cubs also added infielder Ildemaro Vargas to the active roster and designated left-hander Matt Dermody for assignment.
Cardinals: Shildt expects Molina to be available Tuesday, when they play a doubleheader against Minnesota. ... OF Austin Dean is available to be recalled from the team's alternate site if needed, Shildt said. Dean tested positive for the coronavirus and has not appeared in a game this season.
Cubs: OF Jason Heyward ''seems to be feeling much better'' after leaving Sunday's game because he was feeling lightheaded and having difficulty breathing, Ross said. Heyward was taken to a hospital, though he did not stay overnight, and was scheduled for more tests on Tuesday. Ross would not say what the illness is. ''We have had no positive COVID tests, I can tell you that,'' he said. ... RHP Tyler Chatwood (strained right forearm) started his throwing program Monday, and LHP Jose Quintana (left lat inflammation) is expected to begin throwing on Tuesday.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (0-1, 14.73 ERA) returns from the coronavirus to start the first game against Minnesota. His only appearance was against the Twins on July 28. RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-3, 7.82 ERA) likely will be added as the 29th man and start the nightcap, Shildt said. The Twins will go with right-handers Jose Berrios (3-3, 4.29 ERA) in the opener and Randy Dobnak (6-2, 2.72 ERA) in Game 2.
Cubs: RHP Alec Mills (3-3, 5.50) starts as the Cubs open a three-game series against Cincinnati. RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 3.90 ERA) pitches for the Reds.
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