Monday March 25th, 2019 4:52AM

Sanchez, Tucker lead Braves to 4-0 win over Darvish, Cubs

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO — Yu Darvish's first home start with the Chicago Cubs went nothing like his previous outing at Wrigley Field. Instead of dominating in a playoff win, he got knocked out in an early-season loss.

Anibal Sanchez pitched three-hit ball over six innings, Preston Tucker backed him with a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves spoiled Darvish's home debut with a 4-0 victory on Friday.

Darvish had already dodged a few jams when he got thrown off by a balk call in the fifth that he and manager Joe Maddon did not think he deserved. The Braves went on to score all of the runs in that inning while knocking Darvish out of the game.

"After the balk, I got (thrown) off guard and just went downhill from there," Darvish said through an interpreter.

The four-time All-Star got tagged for four runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Darvish (0-1) walked four and struck out four while throwing 105 pitches.

The last time he pitched at Wrigley, he worked into the seventh inning of a 6-1 Dodgers victory in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series last fall. Signed to a $126 million, six-year deal, he struggled for the second time in three starts with Chicago. And the Cubs lost again after dropping two of three to the surging Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tucker delivered the big blow in the fifth with a long homer to right to make it 4-0, and that was all the Braves needed with Sanchez (1-0) dominating.

"I faced him one time right before I had shoulder surgery, and it wasn't pretty," said Tucker, who has three homers — all three-run shots. "It's hard enough to hit him when you're healthy."

Sanchez struck out six and walked one. He has a 1.29 ERA through two starts and three appearances after signing a minor league deal in mid-March.

Shut out for the third time this season, the Cubs have scored just one run in the two games since a 13-5 romp over Pittsburgh. But Ian Happ insisted he is not concerned.

"Look around this room," he said. "Look at our lineup every day."


The Braves finally broke through against Darvish in the fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate.

He gave up a double to Ozzie Albies, got called for the balk and bounced a pitch to Nick Markakis with two outs to bring home the first run. Six straight batters then reached base, starting with a single by Markakis.

After Kurt Suzuki doubled, Tucker hit a drive to right that ricocheted out of the ballpark.

Darvish threw 39 pitches in the inning and exited after walking Sanchez to load the bases. Brian Duensing then retired Ender Inciarte on a bouncer to the pitcher.


"The umpire told me (I) paused (in) the motion. But over the course of my career, I've done that many times and it was never called balk." — Darvish on the balk.


Braves: RHP Brandon McCarthy is on track to make his next start after dislocating his left shoulder at Washington on Wednesday. "He's fine," manager Brian Snitker said. ... RHP Aaron Blair (right shoulder) is scheduled to be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday. He left Wednesday's start at Triple-A Gwinnett after injuring his arm. Blair made 15 starts for the Braves in 2016 and one last season.

Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said he thinks 1B Anthony Rizzo (back) will be ready to return from the 10-day disabled list when he is eligible against St. Louis on Monday. "He's making great progress," Maddon said. ... CF Albert Almora was scratched because of an illness. Ian Happ started and led off in his place.


Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (1-1, 4.35 ERA) looks to build on a scoreless six-inning performance against Colorado on Sunday.

Cubs: LHP Jose Quintana (1-1, 4.50) goes for back-to-back wins after throwing six scoreless innings at Milwaukee on Sunday.

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