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Darvish struggles in Wrigley debut for Cubs

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- It wasn't Yu Darvish's day.

Making his Wrigley Field debut for the Cubs, Darvish took the loss in Atlanta's 4-0 victory over Chicago on a chilly Friday. Preston Tucker hit a three-run homer and another run scored on a wild pitch by Darvish in a long fifth inning.

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CHICAGO -- It wasn't Yu Darvish's day.

Making his Wrigley Field debut for the Cubs, Darvish took the loss in Atlanta's 4-0 victory over Chicago on a chilly Friday. Preston Tucker hit a three-run homer and another run scored on a wild pitch by Darvish in a long fifth inning.

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The problem wasn't the home run as much as a balk called against Darvish in the fifth during Freddie Freeman's at-bat when Ozzie Albies was on second. Both Darvish and Cubs manager Joe Maddon disagreed with home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman's call.

"Obviously, everything went south after the balk, which was not a balk. It was not a balk, but it was called a balk," Maddon said. "It seemed to create a little bit of awkwardness. [Darvish] was doing well up to that point ... then it came apart really quickly."

Video: ATL@CHC: Albies advances to third on Darvish's balk

Darvish said he became "frustrated" after the call.

"The umpire told me it's because I paused in the motion," Darvish said. "Over the course of my career, I've done that many times and it's never called balk. Even Freeman told me it wasn't a balk."

Darvish did strike out Freeman but the next two batters got hits and set up Tucker's homer, the fourth three-run blast they've served up in the last four games.

"The three-run homer really hurt," Maddon said. "We've had this bad run of bad luck regarding three-run homers."

Video: ATL@CHC: Tucker belts a three-run home run to right

This was Darvish's first start at Wrigley since signing a six-year deal in mid February, and he apparently has no trouble dealing with the cold weather. The game-time temperature was 42 degrees and the 17 mph north wind made it feel like 34. Darvish was in short sleeves.

"I was surprised how cold it was but I told myself I'll perform better if the weather is colder," Darvish said. "When I was on the mound I didn't feel any cold."

The Cubs could not muster much against Braves starter Anibal Sanchez, who gave up three hits and struck out six over six innings. Their best chance came in the third when they loaded the bases with two outs as Jason Heyward walked, Ian Happ singled and Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch. Sanchez ended the threat when he got Willson Contreras to ground out.

The Cubs now have been shut out for the third time this season. They miss Anthony Rizzo, who is on the disabled list, but that's not the problem, Happ said.

"I think we have enough guys in the clubhouse and the lineup every day that no one guy will make the difference between it being a good offense or bad offense," Happ said. "We are a good offense no matter who is in the lineup." 

Video: ATL@CHC: Maddon on Darvish, reacting after balk

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Opportunity knocks: The Braves sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth. Albies doubled with one out and Darvish was called for a balk on the fourth pitch of Freeman's at-bat, which upset the right-hander. Darvish then struck out Freeman but Albies scored on a wild pitch during Nick Markakis' at-bat. Markakis singled and Kurt Suzuki doubled to set up Tucker's home run, which bounced off a patio deck in right and onto Sheffield Avenue.

Leading off: Happ was a last minute sub at the top of the lineup for Albert Almora Jr., who has been sick. Happ went 2-for-4, and now has hit safely in three straight games. The Cubs' offense has scuffled, scoring 11 runs in their seven losses.

"You look around this room, look at our lineup every day, that's not going to be an issue," Happ said of the offense. "I think we're doing a good job of putting a plan together. We've hit some balls hard at people. There will come a point when everybody starts clicking at the same time."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Braves had a runner at second when Sanchez bunted down the first-base line in the fourth. Catcher Contreras picked up the ball and tried to throw to first baseman Bryant, but the ball sailed past him. Sanchez ran inside the line and was called out because of interference, ending the inning. Contreras fired the ball to Bryant.

Video: ATL@CHC: Contreras gets Sanchez on interference

"We've been trying to work on the touch pass over the middle, the Kenny Stabler thing," Maddon said. "But if you saw the replay, the runner was way inside the line. Under those circumstances, I would encourage the catcher to try to hit the runner because he's that far in. We need to work on downshifting a bit on the throw."

HE SAID IT
"It never helps to not have Rizzo. We have to win games like that. We're not getting anything going. A couple good at-bats, couple well-struck balls but nothing with real consistency. Their pitcher had us off balance the entire game. He doesn't throw as hard as he used to but he really knows how to pitch. He pitched well but we have to do a better job offensively." -- Maddon

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Cubs had a runner at first and nobody out in the sixth when Bryant hit a potential double-play ball to third baseman Ryan Flaherty, who threw to second baseman Albies for a forceout. Bryant was called safe but the Braves challenged the ruling. After a review, the call stood. Sanchez then got Contreras to hit into a 4-6-3 double play and end the inning.

Video: ATL@CHC: Bryant safe at first, call stands

UP NEXT
Jose Quintana will make his Wrigley Field debut on Saturday. He's coming off a solid start against the Brewers in which he gave up three hits over six scoreless innings. Last year, the lefty was 5-0 with a 4.76 ERA in eight starts at Wrigley after being acquired from the White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish