Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Cubs start second half on right track

CHICAGO — Anthony Rizzo was annoyed as he faced a sea of microphones before the Cubs' first game after the All-Star break.

"The only people that are panicking about this team is the media," Rizzo said. "It's been pretty negative all the comments coming out of everyone's mouth, except in this clubhouse."

A few hours later, Chicago had one of its best games this season.

Kyle Hendricks and four relievers combined on a five-hitter and Addison Russell had a two-run single to key a five-run sixth in a 6-0 win Friday over Texas in a matchup of slumping division leaders, though both remain among the elite in their leagues; going into the day, the Rangers led the AL at 54-36, and the Cubs were second in the NL at 53-35.

"We pitched and really played defense today," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It was outstanding."

The Cubs won for the seventh time in 22 games, while the Rangers lost their eighth in 10 games thanks to a rough sixth that included Prince Fielder's throwing error.

Hendricks, a former Rangers draft pick, allowed three hits in six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.41. Only stars Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner have lower ERAs in the majors.

"Kyle's one of the best pitchers in the National League right now, and nobody is talking about it," Maddon said.

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