LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yu Darvish can rest easier now. He finally conquered his demons at Dodger Stadium.
He tossed seven innings of one-run ball while being booed heavily and Anthony Rizzo hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth, lifting the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
It was Darvish’s first appearance at Chavez Ravine since getting roughed up in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. He was chased early as the Houston Astros beat Los Angeles to win their first championship. The Japanese right-hander got hit hard in both of his starts in that Series and some fans blamed him for the Dodgers’ defeat.
“I had a bad couple start in the last few games with the Dodgers, so this was really important in my life,” Darvish said. “I think now I can move forward. I pitched good here.”
Darvish took the loss in two of Houston’s four victories in the 2017 Series, compiling a whopping 21.60 ERA.
Dodgers fans didn’t let him forget, either.
They booed Darvish during pregame introductions and the noise increased during his first at-bat in the third.
“I thought they’d boo me more,” he said. “In my mind, I had appreciation for the Dodgers. When I was there, the three months, they treated me good and my family.”
Los Angeles starter Walker Buehler harbored no animosity.
“I get where the fans are coming from,” Buehler said, “but he was a good guy and it was fun to pitch against him.”
The Dodgers were interested in bringing Darvish back on a free-agent deal. Instead, the Cubs signed him to a $126 million, six-year deal. He’s had a rocky road in Chicago, with injuries limiting him to 22 starts in nearly 1 ½ years. Darvish has three victories in that span.
He retired nine of his first 10 batters and that’s when Cubs manager Joe Maddon knew Darvish was going to be all right.
“He knows he had to get by certain hurdles and I love the fact that he addresses them straight-up,” Maddon said. “This situation here, with them, back at Dodger Stadium, bad moment that had happened in the past in his career. All of the sudden, he’s able to put that in the rearview mirror.”
Darvish struck out 10 — one off his season high — and walked one.
“He came in with a purpose and intent and really pitched well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We really didn’t get a lot of good swings off him.”
The Cubs blew early leads and got outscored 12-6 in losing the first two games of the series, which has featured 12 home runs and 17 of 20 runs scored on homers.
Jansen hit Kris Bryant in the arm leading off the ninth. Rizzo followed with his team-leading 19th homer, sending a 2-0 pitch into the lower right-field seats.
Jansen (2-2) retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts, to end the inning, but the damage was done and the Dodgers had their seven-game home winning streak snapped.
“Just being wild a few pitches,” Jansen said. “Today was just kind of bad, just kind of disappointed. Location was everything.”
After Justin Turner grounded out and Cody Bellinger struck out, Pedro Strop walked Max Muncy to put the tying runner on in the bottom of the inning. But Max Beaty struck out swinging to end it and give Strop his eighth save.
Kyle Ryan (2-1) got the victory with one-third inning of relief.
Buehler pitched seven scoreless innings, struck out six and walked none. He has struck out 26 in his last three starts, while allowing only one earned run in 22 innings.
Buehler retired his first 10 batters before Bryant was safe at first on a throwing error by shortstop Enriquè Hernàndez in the fourth.
Buehler then retired his next six straight batters before giving up back-to-back singles to Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber in the sixth. But Bryant flied out to right and Rizzo grounded out to Buehler to end the inning.
Alex Verdugo homered on the first pitch from Darvish leading off the fourth.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks went on the IL with right shoulder inflammation a day after one of his worst appearances of the season Friday, when he allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings. He leads the team in innings pitched and has a 3.36 ERA and staff-leading 4.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Yu extended his franchise and career record streak of no-decisions to nine. He hasn’t earned a victory since April 27 against the Diamondbacks at Arizona. He was making his first career start against the Dodgers, the last remaining team he hadn’t faced in the majors.
Cubs: LHP Jose Quintana (4-6, 3.89 ERA) has lost his last five decisions. He’s 1-3 with a 5.13 ERA in seven road starts.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.36) is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs.