Ex-Tiger Anibal Sanchez pitches Braves to win

Andrew Seligman
Associated Press
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) delivers during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

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 4⅔ 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.”