Even without Manny Machado, the Baltimore Orioles were holding their own offensively until running into an old teammate in the series opener at Wrigley Field.
With their young slugger probably lost for the rest of the season, the AL East leaders may have a hard time bouncing back against another hot right-hander.
The short-handed Orioles will try to avoid only their second series loss in the last 10 and deny Chicago Cubs rookie Kyle Hendricks his fifth straight victory Saturday.
Baltimore (73-53), which owns the largest lead in the East since 1997, totaled 41 runs and hit .279 with nine homers while winning four straight on its nine-game trip.
The Orioles, however, could be facing some bad news after managing only five hits off former Baltimore pitcher Jake Arrieta and two relievers in Friday’s 4-1 loss in the first of three against the Cubs.
Machado, who sprained his right knee Aug. 11, will likely have season-ending surgery. The 2013 Gold Glove winner was hitting .278 with 12 home runs in 82 games.
It’s a tough blow for Baltimore as it braces for a difficult matchup against Hendricks (5-1, 1.48 ERA). The 24-year-old hasn’t allowed more than one earned run over six consecutive quality starts, going 5-1 with a 0.84 ERA.
Since July 22, only Washington’s Doug Fister (0.51) had a better ERA among those with at least five starts heading into Friday.
Hendricks nailed down his fourth straight victory Monday, allowing one run and three hits over seven innings in a 4-1 road win over the Mets. He’s 2-1 with a 0.44 ERA in three outings at Wrigley.
"I know it’s a short snippet, and he’s been very, very good, but he is (Hall of Famer Greg) Maddux-like in his execution and approach," manager Rick Renteria told MLB’s official website.
Hendricks, who has never faced the Orioles, will certainly have to be cautious with Nelson Cruz. The All-Star hit his MLB-leading 34th homer Friday, giving him five home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 11 games.
Bud Norris (11-7, 3.69) seeks his fourth straight win for a staff that has compiled a 2.92 ERA while helping Baltimore to a 31-14 record since June 30.
"Our offense gets more publicity, but there’s no way we’d be in this spot if we didn’t get quality start after quality start from all five, six of our guys," catcher Nick Hundley said.
Norris has contributed by going 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in his last four starts. He retired 17 of the first 18 batters Monday, allowing two runs over seven innings in an 8-2 win over the White Sox.
Since losing his first three starts at Wrigley, Norris has gone 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two dating to his time with Houston.
All-Star Anthony Rizzo is hitless in nine at-bats when facing the right-hander, while Chris Coghlan has gone 0 for 14.
NL Central-worst Chicago (56-72) hasn’t scored more than four runs in 15 games, averaging 2.6 since Aug. 7.
Arismendy Alcantara (7 for 54), Coghlan (3 for 30) and Javier Baez (5 for 33) are among those mired in slumps. Baez, though, hit a long solo shot Friday to give him six home runs in his first 18 major league games.