Darvish dazzles

Leads Cubs to 5-2 road win over Mets

AP Photo Chicago pitcher Yu Darvish winds up during the second inning against the New York Mets, Tuesday.

NEW YORK (AP) — The only frustration for Yu Darvish during his longest outing with the Chicago Cubs was that one uncharacteristic walk.

Darvish pitched eight masterful innings, Javier Baez homered and drove in three runs, and the Cubs topped the New York Mets 5-2 Tuesday night to take the opener of a pivotal three-game series in the National League wild-card race.

The pinpoint right-hander from Japan issued his first walk in six starts since July 23. Todd Frazier drew a free pass leading off the fifth, ending a streak of 142 batters without a base on balls for Darvish.

“Sad about the walk. Four-pitch walk,” Darvish said, shaking his head.

“I tried to throw a strike, but I couldn’t throw a strike,” he added later. “So I feel like, embarrassed.”

Baez and Addison Russell each hit a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman, helping the Cubs improve to 26-39 away from home. Both middle infielders finished with three hits, and Baez had an eventful game all over the field.

The flashy shortstop made a snow-cone grab to thwart a potential rally, contributed three extra-base hits and a walk on a perfect night at the plate — and was thrown out twice being overaggressive on the bases.

“When Javy’s got it going on, he does it all,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was just spry Javy out there today.”

Pete Alonso hit his 42nd home run for the Mets, becoming the first rookie in 81 years to break his team’s season record. J.D. Davis went deep with two outs in the ninth against Brandon Kintzler.

“I think winning the first game of this series is huge,” Russell said. “It kind of gets people thinking like, this Cubs team is actually really, really good.”

Darvish (5-6) allowed five hits and struck out seven in his deepest start since lasting eight innings with Texas at Tampa Bay on July 21, 2017. Still, he wasn’t completely satisfied.

“Stuff wasn’t sharp enough,” Darvish said. “Just game plan and pitch selection was — from me — perfect.”