Fujikawa delivers in first appearance as Cubs closer

Kyodo, AP

Kyuji Fujikawa marked his Wrigley Field debut with his second save in the Chicago Cubs’ 6-3 win against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.

In his first appearance since being named the Cubs’ new closer on Sunday, Fujikawa fanned the first batter he faced in the ninth inning before facing countryman Norichika Aoki, who reached on an error by the third baseman. Aoki was 1-for-5 in the loss.

Fujikawa, who coughed up three runs in his last appearance Saturday, then struck out Rickie Weeks and allowed a base hit to Ryan Braun before getting Jonathan Lucroy to pop out to end the game.

“I admit, I was nervous,” said Fujikawa, who has replaced the erratic Carlos Marmol as closer. “It means a lot in my life to earn a save here.

“We had a three-run lead, but I wanted to make sure not to put too many men on base so I threw as hard as I could.”

Fujikawa said he was impressed by the improvement he saw in countryman and second-year major leaguer Aoki, who stretched his hitting streak to five games with a double in five at-bats.

“He’s gotten a lot bigger than he used to be,” Fujikawa said of Aoki, who also stole his second base of the season. “He was scaring me.”

Braves 3, Marlins 2

In Miami, Kris Medlen allowed only an unearned run in seven innings and Atlanta earned its fifth consecutive victory.

Phillies 8, Mets 3

In Philadelphia, Michael Young and Ryan Howard homered, and Cliff Lee came within one out of a complete game.

Padres 9, Dodgers 3

In San Diego, Will Venable homered and hit a bases-loaded triple for the Padres, who rebounded from a dreadful six-game trip to win their home opener.

Cardinals 5, Reds 1

In St. Louis, Lance Lynn struck out 10 in six sharp innings and rookie Matt Adams belted his first career pinch-hit home run.

Pirates 6, Diamondbacks 5

In Phoenix, Miguel Montero drove in three runs and Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer, but Arizona couldn’t rally after Brandon McCarthy gave up five runs in the fourth inning against Pittsburgh.

Giants 9, Rockies 6

In San Francisco, Brandon Crawford started San Francisco’s rally from a four-run deficit that Tim Lincecum created by hitting a three-run homer, and Angel Pagan added a tiebreaking single in the eighth to lead the Giants to their eighth straight win over Colorado.


Nationals 8, White Sox 7

In Washington, Adam LaRoche ended an 0-for-15 start to the season with homers in consecutive at-bats, while Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond also homered.


Tigers 7, Blue Jays 3

In Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hit his first homer and drove in four runs, and left fielder Don Kelly made a home run-robbing catch for the Tigers.

Yankees 14, Indians 1

In Cleveland, Robinson Cano hit one of New York’s five homers and drove in five runs, Andy Pettitte pitched seven solid innings and the Yankees romped to a win over the Indians, who had starter Carlos Carrasco ejected from his first appearance since 2011.

Youkilis and Brennan Boesch hit two-run homers, and Ichiro Suzuki, who finished 1-for-5, and Lyle Overbay had solo shots for New York.

Rangers 6, Rays 1

In Arlington, Texas, Nick Tepesch pitched into the eighth inning in his major league debut, Lance Berkman had a key two-run single among three hits and the Rangers beat Tampa Bay.

Astros 16, Mariners 9

In Seattle, Jose Altuve drove in four runs and hit one of Houston’s five homers, and the Astros broke out of their offensive slump against the Mariners.

Royals 7, Twins 4

In Kansas City, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie won his career-best seventh straight decision, dating to last season, and Alcides Escobar had three hits and an RBI as the Royals defeated Minnesota.

Athletics 9, Angels 5

In Anaheim, pinch hitter John Jaso had a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh, and Oakland blew a four-run lead before rallying to beat the Angels in the majors’ final home opener.