Not even Kyle Hendricks’ return can change the fortunes of the Cubs in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 02: Adam Frazier #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is greeted at home plate by Steven Brault #43 after hitting a three run home run in the fourth inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on July 2, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – Even in the midst of a miserable evening, the Cubs did have one thing going for them on Monday night.

As they were getting battered around in an 18-5 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park, at least Joe Maddon knew he had one of his most consistent pitchers on the mound the next night.

Kyle Hendricks, who went on the disabled list on June 15th with shoulder inflammation, was to return to the mound against Pittsburgh on Tuesday, with the hope that he would settle a rough stretch on the road.

Unfortunately, he really didn’t get the chance, and the early runs he allowed were another to keep the Cubs reeling away from home.

Hendricks allowed two runs in his first three innings before a rain delay ended his night early. Adam Frazier took care of the rest once the skies cleared as his three-run homer in the fourth inning provided more than enough insurance in a 5-1 Pirates’ victory.

It’s the third-straight loss for the Cubs and their fourth in five games on the current road trip, falling to just four games over .500 as they sit a game behind the Brewers in the NL Central.

Hendricks surrendered a first inning run on a sacrifice fly by Josh Bell, who crushed the Cubs on Monday with three homers and seven RBI. That’s all he would put on the scoreboard on Tuesday, but Starling Marte’s double off Hendricks in the third put the Pirates up 2-0.

Then came a two-hour, five-minute rain delay that forced Hendricks out after just three innings after he allowed those two runs along with four hits while striking out four with a walk. Dillon Maples took over in the fourth, allowing a walk and a hit around two outs before Maddon replaced him with Mike Montgomery. The lefty then faced the red-hot Frazier and didn’t get away with a mistake as the second baseman put it in the right field seats for a three-run homer to make it 5-0.

In the two games so far in the series, Frazier is 9-for-10 with five doubles, a home run, and five RBI.

Meanwhile, the Cubs’ offense had little answer for six different Pirates pitchers that kept them off the scoreboard for eight innings. Willson Contreras’ 9th inning double broke up a shutout but not the team’s losing streak as their woes continue on the road.

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