CHICAGO - Kyle Hendricks flummoxed the Mets for six innings to win his career-best seventh straight start, Javier Báez hit a two-run homer in the first off Marcus Stroman and the Chicago Cubs beat New York 2-0 Thursday night to avoid a four-game series sweep.
Hendricks (9-4) struck out seven and walked two, retiring his last eight batters after consecutive walks in the fourth.
He improved to 4-0 against the Mets, who had trouble adjusting to his relatively soft arsenal. The fastest of his 92 pitches was 89.3 mph; his 87.1 mph fastball average entering the game was 186th among 188 qualified pitchers, ahead of only Adam Cimber of Miami (86.9) and submarining Tyler Rogers of San Francisco (82.3), according to MLB Statcast.
Hendricks had allowed eight home runs in his previous four starts and a major league-high 19 coming in.
Andrew Chafin, pitching on his 31st birthday, combined with Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel for three innings of perfect relief, and the final Mets 17 batters were retired in order in the combined two-hitter. Kimbrel got his 19th save in 21 chances, tying for the major league lead.
Chicago pitched just its third shutout of the season but second in five games. The Cubs got a win despite hitting .138 (17 for 123) in the series with nine runs with eight walks and 49 strikeouts.
Neither team had a hit after the fourth inning, combining to go 0 for their last 34.
Stroman (6-5) gave up four hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Following Kris Bryant’s walk in the first, Báez hit a hanging slider into the motorized 18-by-16-foot apple in the center field batter’s eye that is raised to celebrate Mets home runs. Báez’s 16th home run this season was his second of the series.
New York lost for only the third time in its last 17 home games and is 20-7 at Citi Field.
Bryant was back at third base and went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts, two nights after he was hit on the right hand by a Taijaun Walker pitch. Bryant’s throwing hand was wrapped.
Mets: An MRI of ace RHP Jacob deGrom showed no abnormalities, the team said after it was examined by New York medical director David Altchek and Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. ... RP Michael Conforto (strained right hamstring) went 0 for 4 for in his second rehab game at Triple-A Syracuse. 2B Jeff McNeil (strained left hamstring) started 1 for 4 in his third game at Syracuse.
Cubs: RHP Zach Davies (4-3, 4.01) starts Friday’s homestand opener against Miami.
Mets: LHP Joey Lucchesi (1-4, 5.18) starts Friday’s series opener at Washington and RHP Erick Fedde (4-4,, 3.86)