CHICAGO – After a frustrating start with the Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish is starting to live up to his big free-agent contract.
Darvish pitched five effective innings, Jason Heyward drove in three runs and the Cubs beat the slumping Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 on Sunday to sweep their weekend series.
Heyward and Kyle Schwarber homered as the NL Central leaders won for the 11th time in 13 games at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo collected four hits.
Darvish, who turns 33 on Aug. 16, signed a $126 million, six-year contract with Chicago in February 2018, but struggled with injuries and confidence for much of his first year with the Cubs and the start of this season.
Not so much right now.
Darvish (4-5) allowed one run and five hits, struck out eight and walked none in the series finale against Milwaukee. He retired 10 straight batters at one point.
He might have pitched longer, but he was battling an illness. He didn’t speak with the media afterward because he wasn’t feeling well.
“He didn’t say anything until after (the fifth), so he was starting to feel it right about then,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Since the beginning of July, Darvish has 44 strikeouts and just two walks over six outings. In his first 16 starts, he walked 49 and seemed hesitant to pitch to contact at times.
“He’s pitching as well as anybody in the league right now,” Maddon said.
“He’s nasty, period; I’ve always felt that way about Yu,” Heyward said. “Right now, I feel like he’s settled in, relaxed and he’s not trying to do too much.”
Christian Yelich hit his major league-best 37th homer for Milwaukee, which has dropped six of seven. The third-place Brewers trail the Cubs by four games after being outscored 17-5 in the series.
Milwaukee rookie Trent Grisham picked up his first major league hit in the first and his first homer in the eighth. He went 3-for-4 in his third big league game.
“It’s simple: We got beat,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We just didn’t score enough in the end. Tough to win scoring one or two runs per game.”
Derek Holland pitched a scoreless inning and Tyler Chatwood finished for his second save.
Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser (4-5) allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings.
With two outs in the first, Yelich homered to left on a 3-2 pitch. Heyward tied it with his second leadoff homer of the series, driving Houser’s first pitch over the wall in center for his 17th homer on the season.
The Cubs grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second. Heyward drove in the first run with a triple and then scored on a single by Nicholas Castellanos.
Schwarber’s solo drive to right in the fifth — his 25th homer on the season — made it 4-1. Heyward drove in another run in the sixth on a fielder’s choice grounder.
Chicago added two more runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Tony Kemp and an RBI single by David Bote off Alex Claudio.
Diamondbacks 7, Nationals 5
In Phoenix, Ketel Marte hit an inside-the-park home run off former Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin, and Adam Jones drove in four runs for Arizona.
Marte’s third-inning line drive got by diving center fielder Gerardo Parra and rolled to the wall, near the 413-foot (126-meters) mark in left-center. Marte beat a high throw to home plate, eluding the tag by catcher Yan Gomes, for a solo homer and a 4-2 lead.
Jones broke a 5-all tie with a two-run single off Wander Suero (3-6) in the seventh.
Yoshihisa Hirano (4-5) allowed a run in the seventh but earned the win in relief. Archie Bradley pitched two innings for his second save.
Dogers 11, Padres 10
In Los Angeles, Max Muncy’s fourth hit was a game-ending, two-run double, and the Dodgers rallied from a late three-run deficit for a wild victory against San Diego.
Muncy had a homer and two doubles while driving in three runs. Four Dodgers added two RBIs apiece as the NL West leaders took three of four from the Padres with a huge comeback at Chavez Ravine.
Los Angeles’ Kenta Maeda lasted only 2⅔ into his start at Dodger Stadium and was charged with five runs.
Yankees 7, Red Sox 4
In New York, Aaron Judge homered early and a makeshift Yankees lineup pounded David Price in a victory that sent defending World Series champion Boston to its eighth straight loss.
Banged-up New York won its fifth straight and completed the first four-game sweep of its longtime rival since August 2009. The Yankees maintained their eight-game lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay and dropped the third-place Red Sox a whopping 14½ behind — not to mention 6½ games out of a playoff spot.
Indians 6, Angels 2
In Cleveland, Shane Bieber became the first pitcher this season to throw three complete games, leading the Indians over Los Angeles for a three-game sweep.
Bieber (11-4) allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked none. Bieber, the All-Star Game MVP, is 9-2 in his last 15 starts.
Cleveland is 37-15 since June 4, the best record in the major leagues in that span. After trailing by as many as 11½ games in early June, the Indians started Sunday three games back of AL Central-leading Minnesota.
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani was hitless in four at-bats.
Astros 3, Mariners 1
In Houston, Justin Verlander struck out 10 in another dominant Astros pitching performance.
A day after Astros newcomer Aaron Sanchez, acquired from the Blue Jays, and three relievers combined on a no-hitter against the Mariners, Verlander (15-4) took over the major league wins lead and left with an AL-best 2.68 ERA.
In Other Games
Twins 3, Royals 0
Rangers 9, Tigers 4
Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5
Athletics 4, Cardinals 2
Rays 7, Marlins 2
White Sox 10, Phillies 5
Reds 6, Braves 4, (10)
Rockies 6, Giants 2
Mets 13, Pirates 2