CHICAGO -- The final result Monday night did not go the way the Cubs hoped, but the silver lining that Yu Darvish provided might have outweighed a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Phillies in 10 innings at Wrigley Field.
With the exception of a three-run sixth inning, Darvish turned in what manager Joe Maddon characterized as perhaps the veteran right-hander's best effort in a Cubs uniform.
Despite Darvish's effort and an eighth-inning rally that put them in position for a dramatic victory, the Cubs couldn't hold off the Phillies.
Starting opposite former Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, Darvish struck out seven and allowed four hits over six innings. Daniel Descalso's eighth-inning "Little League home run" (a triple and error) took Darvish off the hook for the loss, but the Cubs' bullpen couldn't protect the one-run lead in the ninth, and Kyle Ryan allowed a 10th-inning home run to J.T. Realmuto to cap a wild series opener.
Yet in the midst of all that happened after Darvish scattered four hits, walked three and struck out seven, his effort wasn't lost on Maddon -- or on Darvish.
"He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself," Maddon said. "I thought that was his best game for us to date."
Said Darvish: "I pitched good in Wrigley and so that made me feel better ... it was good."
The Cubs rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth when Victor Caratini and Jason Heyward walked to lead off the inning. After Albert Almora Jr. moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, Descalso drove a fly ball that split left fielder Andrew McCutchen and center fielder Odúbel Herrera and rolled to the wall. McCutchen relayed a throw to shortstop Jean Segura, whose throw appeared to bounce off one of Descalso's feet and ricochet into the Cubs' dugout, which awarded Descalso home plate and gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Brad Brach entered in the ninth and was within an out of closing out the victory, but Segura looped a shallow single over the head of first baseman Anthony Rizzo to drive in Maikel Franco, who had doubled with one out. Segura's single came after McCutchen walked during an at-bat that included a checked swing that Brach referred to as a "50-50 call," which extended the inning for Segura.
"It's just frustrating that [the single] cost us the win," Brach said. "It's one of those outings that I will stay up all night thinking about -- could have thrown this, could have thrown that -- but at the end of the day, it's just baseball. It happens like that sometimes, unfortunately."
The Cubs couldn't answer in their half of the ninth before Ryan surrendered the go-ahead home run. Almora singled to put the potential tying run on base, but Phillies reliever Juan Nicasio got Descalso to ground into a double play, which left Darvish's strong effort and the eighth-inning rally for naught.
"Some weird things happened," said Kyle Schwarber, who scored the Cubs' first run after a leadoff triple in the third inning and a Rizzo RBI single. "One thing didn't go our way there with one of the [check] swings, and the next thing you know, there's a blooper over [Rizzo's] head ... but that's baseball."
Despite the no-decision, Darvish felt that his performance is something he can build on moving forward. Darvish agreed with Maddon's assessment that his effort Monday was one of his best. The six innings of work tied his season high.
Darvish, who stepped off the back of the mound to allow Cubs fans to acknowledge Arrieta in his return, felt as if he matched up pretty well. Arrieta scattered eight hits over six innings, allowed one run, walked two and struck out four.
"He's a legend in Chicago," Darvish said of Arrieta. "When I faced him, I pitched pretty good and that makes me confident."