Kyle Hendricks strong, but Cubs can’t pick him up in extra-inning loss to the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 09: Chicago Cubs Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (28) pitching during the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants on July 9, 2018 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Ca. (Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO – Finally, things seemed normal again with “The Professor” back on the mound.

Gone was the bad start and the home runs. Back was the pinpoint control and strikeout prowess that’s made him one of the most reliable pitchers in the Cubs’ rotation.

It was a performance befitting of 2016 more than 2018, and that was a good thing for Kyle Hendricks Monday night at AT&T Park. If only the Cubs’ offense could have found a way to pick him up.

Andrew Suarez and five other Giants pitchers held the Cubs to one run, and San Francisco broke through against the visitor’s bullpen in the 11th for a 2-1 victory.

Hendrick’s game, which is arguably his best of the 2018 season, included season-high 8 1/3 innings without an earned run allowed with eight strikeouts compared to just one walk. It’s just the second start this season in which the pitcher didn’t allow an earned run all season long, and ends a four-game stretch where Hendricks allowed at least three earned runs.

The only run of scored against him came on a botched pickoff move to first when Hendricks’ throw got away from Rizzo and bounced around in foul territory on the first base side. Alen Hansen took advantage of the Cubs’ slow response to getting the ball back and raced around the bases, beating Ian Happ’s throw home for the run.

It tied the game after the Cubs went ahead in the third on a fielder’s choice RBI by Addison Russell.

That was it for their offense the rest of the night, getting a runner to third only once the rest of the game. Meanwhile the Cubs’ got out of a jam in the 10th as Steve Cishek left Hunter Pence stranded at third after a one-out triple. The pitcher wasn’t as lucky in the 11th as Andrew McCutcheon and Brandon Belt got hits off Cishek, leading to his removal from the game for Pedro Strop.

After he intentionally walked Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval brought the winning run with a single to left. It’s a difficult loss for the Cubs to open their second-to-last series of the first half, but at least one of their best pitchers looked like himself again.