Kimbrel shaky again, Cubs hold off Royals for 5th win in row
CHICAGO (AP) — Jason Heyward, Jason Kipnis and Willson Contreras homered and the Chicago Cubs overcame another shaky outing by closer Craig Kimbrel to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
Kimbrel took over to begin the ninth inning with a 5-2 lead, but struggled again and allowed two runs and two hits while getting only one out. He’s yielded six runs in 1 2/3 innings in three appearances this season.
Manager David Ross yanked Kimbrel after Adalberto Mondesi lined a double to right. There wasn’t much discussion on the mound.
“He was just asking me if if was taking him out and I said yeah,” Ross said. “That was about it. I just didn’t see that playing out for our benefit.”
Cubs reliever Kyle Ryan closed it out for his first save, getting Bubba Starling to ground out sharply to third baseman Kris Bryant with a runner on third to end it. Bryant made a nifty play, ranging to his right and toward the line to glove the ball before throwing to first.
Kyle Hendricks tossed seven solid innings to help the Cubs improve to 9-2, their best start through 11 games since 2016 when they went on to win the World Series.
“I think we’re in a really good spot right now, just going game to game,” Hendricks said. “Every guy in the lineup with putting together a tough at-bat. It’s a different guy coming up every night.”
Hendricks (2-1) allowed two runs on seven hits, but walked none as he rebounded from a shaky loss last Wednesday at Cincinnati. Jeremy Jeffress pitched a perfect eighth before the Royals rallied in the ninth.
Mondesi had three hits and an RBI for the Royals, who lost their fifth straight and dropped to 3-9.
“To see that kind of fight and those at-bats late in the game that was proud to see,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Overall that is the fight you want to see. Shame we couldn’t quite get the last one there.”
Brady Singer (0-1), making his third major league start on his 24th birthday, allowed four runs — on two-run homers by Heyward and Kipnis —and five hits, while striking out eight.
Although Jorge Soler drove in a run with a sacrifce fly, the former Cubs player failed to reach base in ending a 25-game streaking dating to last Sept. 14.
Hendricks, who pitched a three-hit shutout against Milwaukee on opening day, gave up three straight hits to open the second. The Royals stopped a 26-inning scoreless drought at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks got better as the game went on.
“Not as sharp as I’ve seen him early, but he really settled in there later,” Ross said. “A good outing and he continued to make pitches.”
Heyward’s shot to right in the bottom half, his first homer, put Chicago ahead 2-1.
Heyward added a single in the fourth, then came home when Kipnis added his drive to right-center to make it 4-1. It was the second homer for Kipnis, a native of suburban Northbrook, Illinois, who signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in February.
Contreras homered in the eighth.
Royals: Matheny confirmed RHP Brad Keller will make his first start of the season on Thursday against the Cubs at Kauffman Stadium. Keller, the Royals’ opening day starter in 2019, has been on the injured list since July 14 after testing positive for the COVID-19. Keller was 7-14 with a 4.19 ERA in 28 starts last year.
Cubs: LHP José Quintana remains on scheduled throw a two-inning simulated game Thursday at the team’s alternate site in South Bend, Indiana. Quintana had surgery to repair nerve damage on his left thumb last month after he cut himself washing dishes.
Cubs RHP Yu Darvish (1-1, 2.70) takes the mound when the two teams meet in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Darvish tossed six scoreless innings against Pittsburgh last Friday for the win. Royals LHP Kris Bubic (0-1, 4.50) makes his second career start. He yielded three runs, all on Adam Engel’s homer, in losing his major league debut to the White Sox last Friday.