Cubs' Hendricks on a roll as he faces Giants

CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks insists he is getting ever closer to last season's superb form, and a steadily dropping earned-run average bears him out.

The Chicago Cubs right-hander is scheduled to make his ninth start of the season on Wednesday in the third game of a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants.

Hendricks (3-2, 3.35 ERA) will go against Giants left-hander Matt Moore (2-4, 5.37 ERA).

Hendricks had a National League-low 2.13 ERA in 2016, but two rough outings last month left him with a 6.19 ERA and a 1-1 record through three starts.

In his next five starts, Hendricks allowed seven runs total and made two scoreless efforts while going 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA.

"To repeat the year he had last year is tough," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said after Hendricks' win over the Cincinnati Reds on May 17. "He set the bar very high. We don't expect anything less than that. We got to be realistic, but he's doing a great job right now."

The Giants have high expectations for Moore, in his second season with the club after an Aug. 1 trade last year. He spent 5 1/2 seasons at Tampa Bay.

He faces the Cubs in the regular season for the first time. Moore tossed eight innings and allowed two runs (one earned) in Game 4 of the 2016 National League Division Series against Chicago and struck out 10. However, he didn't factor in the decision after the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the ninth.

In his last outing, Friday at St. Louis, Moore had a quality outing but no decision. He allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, striking out five in the Giants' 6-5 comeback victory.

On May 13, he picked up the win in San Francisco's 3-1 victory over the Reds, allowing one run in 7 1/3 innings.

"I was just trying to slow myself down where I'm thinking about only the moment I'm in, not about future innings or who's on deck," Moore said after that game. "Just right here, right now."

The Giants are making their only 2017 Wrigley Field appearance with this series, but the teams will get back together between Aug. 7-9 for a series at AT&T Park.

The Cubs evened the series with a 4-1 win on Tuesday night behind a complete-game four-hitter from Jon Lester.

"That's just classic stuff," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He just kept getting better."

The Giants had Lester in trouble in the fifth before Eduardo Nunez was caught stealing second.

"We're not going to stop being aggressive," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're going to continue to play the game."

In three career starts against the Giants, Hendricks is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA. He faced San Francisco almost exactly a year ago -- May 22, 2016 -- and took a loss despite allowing just one earned run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Left-handers are batting .192 and righties .258 against Hendricks.

Moore's splits are similarly lopsided: Lefties are hitting .375, righties .250.
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