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Chicago Cubs

Cubs appear locked in with second straight rout of Pirates

The Cubs' Nicholas Castellanos (left) celebrates with teammate Kyle Schwarber after scoring on a Kris Bryant single during the second inning against the Pirates on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs' Nicholas Castellanos (left) celebrates with teammate Kyle Schwarber after scoring on a Kris Bryant single during the second inning against the Pirates on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

At this point, the Chicago Cubs are trying not to overthink things.

That goes for setting home run records or pitcher Kyle Hendricks’ success at Wrigley Field or even having their batters being plunked by pitches.

“I think we’ve stopped trying to make a reason for everything,” said Hendricks, the winner in Saturday’s 14-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the second straight rout for the Cubs, who beat the Pirates, 17-8, on Friday.

“We’re in a really good spot right now,” Hendricks said. “In the last two days, we’ve just gone pitch to pitch so well. The lineup has just been locked in, get it to the next guy, that kind of mentality.

“Just putting really good swings on balls, finding holes and playing defense. That’s our strength when we do it right, and we’ve just been doing that really well.”

Hendricks (11-9) has a 1.75 ERA in 13 home starts this season, and he went six innings Saturday, when the Cubs scored four runs in the second inning against James Marvel on the way to another romp around the bases.

It was the third straight victory for the Cubs, who improved to 80-68.

Speaking of romping around the bases, the Cubs homered four times Saturday, giving them 237 for the season, breaking the single-season team record of 235, set in 2004.

Included was Ben Zobrist’s first of the season, Kris Bryant’s 29th, rookie Nico Hoerner’s second in two days and a late blast by Victor Caratini.

Hoerner’s line-drive, three-run homer in the sixth set the franchise record. Bryant’s two-run homer in the fourth was the 136th of his career, tying Ernie Banks for the most home runs by a Cub in his first five big-league seasons.

“It’s very balanced,” Bryant said. “There’s a lot of people contributing to that number. That makes for a good team. There’s a lot of talk about home runs. We love it. Home runs are fun. It’s exciting. I think the fans want to see the ball go over the fence.”

Bryant said he saw the Banks comparison on a video.

“Pretty cool,” he said. “That’s pretty special. I’ve got to pinch myself sometimes and realize and be proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in all those days. … there’s definitely more bad days than good days, but you think about this and what I’ve been able to do in my five years here is pretty special and means a lot to me.”

For the painful part, Bryant was among four Cubs hit by pitches. Pirates reliever Clay Holmes, who has battled command issues, hit Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos and David Bote.

When Bote was hit, he gestured toward Holmes, signaling that this was the second time Holmes had hit him this season. Benches emptied, but that was the extent of it.

Cubs pitcher Dillon Maples and manager Joe Maddon were ejected in the ninth after Maples hit Elias Diaz and Erik Gonzalez back to back.

The Cubs, to a man, tried to defuse things.

“I looked back at the video and realized [the pitch] was a cutter,” said Bote, who waited for reporters at his locker. “It obviously was not intentional. However, it’s the same guy who hit me in the head at Pittsburgh. And he’s hit two of our guys already, right-handers. You already know this guy doesn’t have really good control.

“You slow-motion it down, and you’re like, ‘OK, that ball is a fastball at your head,’ and you go to duck, and it ends up being a slider. It’s not intentional. It got me in the shoulder, but in the heat of the moment, you can’t do that with our three right-handed hitters up-and-in.

“KB is a little bit taller, and if that’s me, it’s in the head. He hit me in the head in Pittsburgh, and the next at-bat he hits me. You don’t like to see it.

“I wasn’t going to go after him or anything like that. Just got to be better, I guess.”

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