CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish's chat with manager Joe Maddon appears to have paid off. The right-hander struck out eight over six impressive innings, though he missed a bid for his first win with the Cubs, who needed to rally to beat the Brewers 3-2 on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.Darvish
CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish's chat with manager Joe Maddon appears to have paid off. The right-hander struck out eight over six impressive innings, though he missed a bid for his first win with the Cubs, who needed to rally to beat the Brewers 3-2 on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Darvish exited with a 2-1 lead, but the Brewers tied the game in the seventh. The Cubs rallied in their half of the inning for the victory, though, their fifth in six games against Milwaukee.
Darvish even heard more chants of "Yuuuu" during the game, especially when he got to two strikes on a batter.
"I like the 'Yuuuu,'" Maddon said. "I like it. I'd like to see that catch on. A big strikeout situation, 'Let's go Yu.' That was Yuge."
Pedro Strop got the win in relief, but Friday's outing was still a plus for Darvish. When the Cubs were in Cleveland earlier this week, Maddon and Darvish met privately. The manager's message was for the veteran righty to focus on one pitch at a time.
"I thought he worked the mental game extremely well," Maddon said of Darvish. "He was right on with everything. He developed a great routine. Pitchers with that special kind of ability, you just get out of your zone somehow and you need to be reminded about a couple things. I promise you, he keeps doing that, look out."
"[Maddon] really takes care of me," Darvish said through his interpreter. "He thinks a lot about me. In today's outing, there was a similar situation as in the previous game. Because I spoke with Joe, I was able to overcome it and kept going.
"He talked [in Cleveland] about not worrying about the previous pitch or what happened in the past, and concentrate on the pitch I was going to throw," Darvish said. "Basically, it was, 'Don't worry about what happened in the past.'"
Friday's game didn't start well for Darvish. Brewers leadoff man Lorenzo Cain hit the right-hander's first pitch to right and Jason Heyward had to battle the 16-mph wind, dropping the ball for an error, which allowed Cain to reach second. Cain then stole third and scored one out later on Jesus Aguilar's sacrifice fly. That was the only run off Darvish.
The fifth has been the problem for Darvish, who had been charged with 12 earned runs on 13 hits and six walks in that frame. He had been unable to complete the inning in three of his four previous starts.
On Friday, Darvish struck out Eric Sogard on a 94.7 mph two-seam fastball to start the fifth, then got Manny Pina looking at a 64-mph curve. Brent Suter singled to center and Cain walked. With the crowd of 35,579 chanting, "Yuuu," Darvish got Christian Yelich to ground out and end the inning.
"I was never expecting him to throw that pitch," Pina said. "He just threw that one all day, right? I was ready for a two-seamer in or a slider away, and he threw me that. [Darn.] He was good. He threw the ball good. He was commanding very well, all of his pitches. We just didn't hit today, or in this series."
Darvish finished his start by striking out Hernan Perez to end the Brewers' sixth. The six innings matched his longest outing of the season when he held Milwaukee to two hits over six innings on April 7.
"It was a different Yu I saw today," Chicago's Albert Almora Jr. said. "I'm excited for what's to come."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One-two punch: Almora and Javier Baez both extended their hitting streaks to personal highs in the Cubs' first. Almora doubled to lead off against Brent Suter and scored on Baez's single to tie the game. Both hits extended their hitting streaks to 10 games. Baez stole second and then scored on Anthony Rizzo's opposite-field single to take a 2-1 lead. This is the seventh time in the past eight games that Almora and Baez have batted first and second in the lineup.
"The best thing we do is have a lot of fun playing, and we feed off each other," Almora said. "I think it's great, us being there and get things rolling."
Double or nothing: Suter retired nine in a row before Darvish led off the Cubs' fifth with his second career double and first since July 4, 2014, when he did so against the Mets. It may not have been the most graceful baserunning, as he slipped after stepping on second and did a belly flop on the dirt. Maddon joked that Darvish turned a triple into a double, but that was the pitcher's plan.
"I told Almora that I'll be hitting a double, so make sure you bunt afterword," Darvish said. "If I'd gone three, that wouldn't have been [right]. I purposely did a double and not a triple."
Game-winner: With the game tied at 2 in the seventh, the Cubs had runners at first and third with two outs when shortstop Sogard muffed Baez's grounder, allowing the winning run to score on the error. Sogard overran the grounder, then made an off-balance throw that got away.
"It's a tough play," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's on the run, tough play up the middle. He got a glove on it and kind of had it in his glove."
With Darvish's outing, Cubs starting pitchers now have thrown four straight quality starts, and they have posted a 1.38 ERA in that stretch.
HE SAID IT
"They had two balls that would've been home runs that weren't -- Aguilar [in the first] and Yelich had a grand slam [in the seventh]. On any particular day, [Yelich's ball] is way, way gone. That's just how this ballpark is -- it giveth and it taketh away." -- Maddon, on Wrigley Field
Jose Quintana will get the ball Saturday at 1:20 p.m. CT against Milwaukee's Junior Guerra. He struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Rockies and got the win. On April 8, he beat the Brewers, throwing six scoreless innings. This will be his second start at Wrigley Field this season.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.