CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs' young hitters have received virtually all the attention late this summer. But it's been the organization's pitching prospects, led by Kyle Hendricks, who have experienced instant success in the big leagues.
Hendricks, who didn't reach the majors until July, kept up his impressive rookie season, pitching seven strong innings as the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 Wednesday night for a sweep.
Hendricks (7-2) allowed one run and seven hits. He walked none, struck out four and now has a 2.28 ERA. The right-hander bounced back nicely from his last start where he allowed four runs in six innings in an 11-1 loss at Toronto.
"I came in just trying to learn and see what big league hitters and big league baseball, overall, was all about," Hendricks said. "I've definitely learned a ton and I've been able to have success, too, and that's ultimately what I was hoping for."
"I think we have a lot of great building blocks going forward," Hendricks said. "To be a part of that, I'm honored."
Chris Valaika, Ryan Kalish and Luis Valbuena each had a run-scoring hit as the Cubs won their third straight. They improved to 38-36 at Wrigley Field despite being 16 games under .500 overall.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances.
Daniel Corcino (0-1) lost in his second big league start.
The Reds have dropped four in a row overall. They scored just one run in the three-game series against the Cubs, and were held to one hit in a shutout loss Tuesday night.
"It's been a tough road trip to this point," Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. "We're 1-5, scored 10 runs in six games, five of those in our one win. Yeah, we've struggled to score."
The Reds, with a makeshift lineup of mostly backups and September call-ups, didn't waste any time jumping on top. Leadoff batter Kristopher Negron started the game with a double and later scored on a grounder by Yorman Rodriguez.
But that was all the Reds could manage. Their best scoring opportunity after the opening inning came in the seventh when, with two on and two out, Negron hit a liner toward the left-field wall that Chris Coghlan caught before running and jumping into the ivy.
"I didn't think that was going to stay in when he first hit it," Hendricks said. "Coghlan, what can I say? I mean, going back, jumping up there, he saved the game, really."
The Cubs scored twice in the second. Soler walked and later scored on a single by Valaika. Kalish hit a double to center that appeared to score two runners, but Valaika was sent back to third when the ball was lost in the ivy for a ground-rule double.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (left knee) continues to make progress and the hope is he can return to the lineup before the end of the season.
Cubs: CF-2B Arismendy Alcantara missed a second straight game with a mild sprain of the right wrist. He is listed as day-to-day.
Reds: Off on Thursday before continuing the road trip Friday night in St. Louis. LHP David Holmberg (1-1, 6.00) pitches the opener for the Reds.
Cubs: Host the NL West-leading Los Angeles on Thursday in the first of a four-game series. LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3, 3.34) takes on RHP Zack Greinke (15-8, 2.64) in the opener.
WAITING FOR THE CALL
Bryant was honored before the game for being picked the Cubs' minor league player of the years, but admitted that he would have preferred to make his first appearance at Wrigley this year in uniform.
"I guess it's bittersweet," he said. "It's always been my dream to play in the big leagues and I sure hope that day comes some time soon."
Bryant wasn't among the minor leaguers promoted when rosters expanded Sept. 1 and he'll probably begin next season in the minors as well. That way the Cubs can gain an extra year before he becomes eligible for arbitration and free agency.
Splitting time between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, the 22-year-old hit a combined .325 with 43 homers (most in the minors) and 110 RBIs.