CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs were an unlikely team to snap Masahiro Tanaka's unbeaten streak with the worst record in the majors coming into the game.
This time, the long shot prevailed.
Tanaka had his regular-season unbeaten run snapped at 42 starts, allowing a season-high four runs in six innings, and Chicago beat the New York Yankees 6-1 on Tuesday night.
The Cubs honored the retiring Derek Jeter before the game, then handed Tanaka his first loss in nine major league starts.
"Everybody was aggressive," Chicago's Luis Valbuena said
It was a surprising turn, considering Chicago's struggles and the dominance of the rookie from Japan.
Tanaka (6-1) had been 34-0 in Japan and North America the last two seasons. He did drop Game 6 of the Japan Series last year before earning the save in Game 7. But postseason aside, he hadn't lost since the Seibu Lions beat the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Aug. 19, 2012. And yes, he was definitely proud of that streak.
"I think I was able to get the streak going because I had support from my teammates," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I'm a little bit disappointed because I think a lot of the fans were looking for me to keep on winning. Next time out, I'll try to get a win again and get it going again."
Valbuena had three hits with two doubles and scored two runs for Chicago. John Baker had two hits, scored a run and drove in one.
Mike Olt drove in three. Jason Hammel (5-2) pitched solid ball into the sixth and Hector Rondon retired Jeter on a grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth, preserving the win on a hot and rainy night with thunder and lightning.
Tanaka had his worst outing, allowing eight hits to match a career high. He struck out seven and walked one but didn't really have his usual command.
Manager Joe Girardi noticed some splitters up in the zone. Tanaka said there were issues with all his pitches, and Chicago's Starlin Castro thought there was a dip in velocity from last month's meeting in New York, when he threw eight scoreless innings.
Some Cubs players thought familiarity this time around helped, although Girardi dismissed that idea.
"If he has his good splitter tonight I think he gives a much better performance," he said. "Since it's the first time that he saw a team twice and they scored four runs, people are probably going to make a big deal out of it, but I think he's given up four runs before in a start. So I wouldn't make too much of it."
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