CHICAGO – All Masahiro Tanaka could do was put this one behind him and look forward to his next start. He’ll be hard-pressed to match an unbeaten streak like this, though.
Tanaka had his unbeaten regular-season run snapped at 42 starts, allowing a career-high four runs in six innings, and the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Yankees 6-1 on Tuesday night.
The Cubs honored the retiring Derek Jeter before the game, then handed Tanaka his first loss in nine major league starts.
It was a surprising turn, considering Chicago came in with the majors’ worst record and the right-hander from Japan had been sensational.
Tanaka (6-1) had been 34-0 in Japan and North America the last two seasons. He did drop Game 6 of the Japan Series last year before earning the save in Game 7. But postseason aside, he hadn’t lost since the Seibu Lions beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Aug. 19, 2012. And yes, he was definitely proud of that streak.
“I think I was able to get the streak going because I had support from my teammates,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I’m a little bit disappointed because I think a lot of the fans were looking for me to keep on winning. Next time out, I’ll try to get a win again and get it going again.”
Luis Valbuena had three hits with two doubles and scored two runs for Chicago. John Baker had two hits, scored a run and drove in one.
Mike Olt drove in three. Jason Hammel (5-2) pitched solid ball into the sixth and Hector Rondon retired Jeter on a grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth, preserving the win on a hot and rainy night with thunder and lightning.
Tanaka had his worst outing, allowing eight hits to match a career high. He struck out seven and walked one but didn’t really have his usual command.
Manager Joe Girardi noticed some splitters up in the zone. Tanaka said there were issues with all his pitches, and Chicago’s Starlin Castro thought there was a dip in velocity from last month’s meeting in New York, when he threw eight scoreless innings.
Some Cubs players thought familiarity this time around helped, although Girardi dismissed that idea.
“If he has his good splitter tonight I think he gives a much better performance,” he said. “Since it’s the first time that he saw a team twice and they scored four runs, people are probably going to make a big deal out of it, but I think he’s given up four runs before in a start. So I wouldn’t make too much of it.”
Coming off his first major-league shutout against the Mets last week, Tanaka gave up RBI singles to Emilio Bonifacio in the third and to Olt in the fourth to make it 2-0. The Cubs added to their lead with two in the sixth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Olt and Baker after Mark Teixeira singled in a run in the top half for New York.
That was enough for Hammel, who allowed one run and four hits in 5⅔ innings while striking out six and walking one.
The Cubs saluted Jeter before the game, with Castro presenting him a number 2 from the famed Wrigley Field scoreboard at home plate as the crowd cheered. And there was a loud ovation when the Yankees’ captain batted in the first.
Former Cub Soriano also got a warm welcome in his first game at Wrigley Field since the Cubs traded him to New York last July. He was 0-for-4.
Ichiro Suzuki walked once as a pinch hitter for New York.
Orioles 9, Pirates 2
In Pittsburgh, Chris Davis hit three home runs, doubling his season total, and drove in five runs to lead Baltimore.
Twins 5, Padres 3
In San Diego, Kevin Correia scattered three runs and four hits over six innings, and Kurt Suzuki hit an inside-the-park home run.
Braves 5, Brewers 0
In Atlanta, Julio Teheran pitched a six-hitter for his second shutout of the season and Justin Upton had three RBIs in the Braves’ victory.
Milwaukee has lost four in a row overall, the team’s longest skid of 2014.
Rockies 5, Giants 4
In Denver, Nolan Arenado hit a two-out, two-run double off the wall in the ninth inning for Colorado.
It was the second straight game the Rockies have won in walkoff fashion, with Justin Morneau hitting a two-run homer in the 10th against San Diego on Sunday.
Cardinals 5, D-Backs 0
In St. Louis, Adam Wainwright allowed one hit as the Cardinals ended an eight-game home run drought with long balls from Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta.
Working on six days’ rest because of a rainout and day off, Wainwright retired the first 11 batters before Paul Goldschmidt doubled off the wall in center with two outs in the fourth.
Nationals 9, Reds 4
In Washington, Denard Span was at his disruptive best, getting three hits off the majors’ top pitcher, Johnny Cueto.
Phillies 6, Marlins 5
In Miami, Jimmy Rollins homered for the second game in a row to put Philadelphia ahead to stay.
Dodgers 9, Mets 4
In New York, Adrian Gonzalez homered again in his second consecutive three-hit game and Yasiel Puig reached base five times.