Kyle Hendricks and four relievers combined on a five-hitter, Addison Russell had a two-run single to key a five-run sixth inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Texas Rangers 6-0 on Friday in a matchup of slumping division leaders.
The Cubs returned from the All-Star break to win 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.
As Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester have struggled lately, Hendricks (8-6) has remained sharp. The former Rangers draft pick lowered his team-best ERA to 2.41, allowing three hits with three strikeouts in six innings.
Carl Edwards Jr. struck out two in a perfect seventh and Travis Wood, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm combined for the final six outs in Chicago's eighth shutout.
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Russell's bases-loaded hit in the sixth was followed by pinch-hitter Matt Szczur's two-run single against Martin Perez (7-6).
One of the runs was unearned after Fielder fired a throw high and wide of third in a rare start at first base due to interleague play.
The Cubs, who entered percentage points ahead of Texas for the second-best record in the majors behind San Francisco, had seven hits on an unseasonably cool, drizzly day with the wind blowing in.
The breeze kept Anthony Rizzo's drive to right in the park in the sixth that helped load the bases for the All-Star Russell.
Perez was charged with five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Rangers: LHP Jake Diekman, who cut his left index finger on a beer mug earlier this month in Boston, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. It's retroactive to July 6. ... RHP Keone Kela (elbow) was activated. ... LF Shin-Soo Choo (back) was out of the lineup. Ryan Rua replaced him, while Rougned Odor led off.
Cubs: OF Dexter Fowler (hamstring) isn't expected back before the end of next week. ... C David Ross was activated off the seven-day concussion list. ... RHP Trevor Cahill (right knee tendinitis) was placed on the 15-day DL. ... OF Jorge Soler (hamstring) could start a rehab assignment soon. ... RHP Adam Warren returned to the bullpen, but could make another spot start.
Cubs President Theo Epstein said they "had a few things going on, but didn't get anything done" regarding trades during the All-Star break. The Cubs are seeking bullpen help, while the Rangers want starting pitching.
Perez recorded his first major league hit with a swinging bunt toward third base in the second. He had been 0 for 9.
Former Cubs and Rangers pitcher Ryan Dempster sported giant glasses and a white wig in an impressive Harry Caray impersonation while leading the crowd during the seventh inning stretch.
Rangers RHP Yu Darvish (2-0, 2.87 ERA) returns from the disabled list and starts Saturday against Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (7-5, 3.46). Darvish is expected to throw 85-90 pitches.