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Darvish historically good but Cubs still crumble

PHILADELPHIA — The Chicago Cubs wasted a near record-setting outing by righty Yu Darvish on Thursday as he became only the second pitcher to go four straight starts with eight-plus strikeouts and no walks.

“He’s been doing that for a while,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after a 7-5 loss to the Phillies. “He’s been one of the best pitchers in the National League and he showed it again tonight.”

Darvish mowed down the Phillies over seven innings, while striking out 10, before a ninth-inning bullpen implosion led to a Bryce Harper walk-off grand slam. The Cubs led 5-1 entering the ninth before Harper’s blast off lefty Derek Holland ended the night and series with a Phillies three-game sweep.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo was asked where the loss ranked among many bad ones on the road this season.

“It’s No.1, for sure,” he said. “With the road struggles, being able to win a game here would have been nice. But we didn’t. It’s definitely tough at this part of the season, as opposed to April and May when this happens.”

The loss dropped the Cubs to 23-38 on the road, while they are 41-19 at home. Despite the defeat, Darvish has now gone 26 innings without issuing a walk, the longest active streak in the majors and sixth longest this season. It comes after a horrendous start to his year when he walked 22 batters in his first six starts. He’s walked one in his last six.

“I have more routine now, doing the same thing every day,” Darvish said in crediting his success. “That makes me feel better.”

Could he have gone longer than seven innings on Thursday? After 92 pitches, he and Maddon said he was done, despite an easy final inning.

“Pretty much,” Darvish said. “After the fourth inning I started losing my mechanics. I think it was a good decision. … The numbers show good, but I don’t feel that good.”

The decision led to a series of events which eventually led to Holland facing Harper with the game on the line. It didn’t help that the Cubs have three top relievers on the injured list and shortstop Javy Baez was scratched due to an illness. His replacement, David Bote, made a key error in the ninth inning opening the door for the Phillies.

“That one is going to leave a mark,” Maddon said of the loss.

As for the 2-2 pitch to Harper, Holland didn’t think it was a bad one. It was on the inside corner of the plate but Harper turned on it for a no-doubter.

“I looked at the pitch,” Holland said. “It was a great pitch. You have to give credit to where it’s due. Tip your hat to him.”

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