PITTSBURGH (AP) — The San Diego Padres have the best bullpen in the majors at the moment. The most overworked one, too.
Yu Darvish did what he could to give them most of the night off.
The 34-year-old ace allowed three hits over seven dominant innings, Wil Myers drove in five runs and the Padres extended their strong start with a 6-2 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
Darvish (1-0), acquired from the Chicago Cubs in December in hopes of helping San Diego chase down the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, struck out six and walked one in a crisp performance as the Padres won their fourth straight. The four-time All-Star worked efficiently, throwing 63 of 95 pitches for strikes and permitting just one runner past second base.
Perhaps just as importantly, Darvish ate up 21 outs to give the bullpen a bit of a break. San Diego relievers entered the game having worked a major league-high 43 innings, including 8 1/3 in Texas on Sunday after starter Adrian Morejon left in the first with an injury.
Darvish made sure only light work was required against the rebuilding Pirates. His lone hiccup came with two outs in the third when Adam Frazier singled and Phil Evans followed with an RBI double that tied the game. Darvish retired 14 of his final 15 batters in a start that mirrored most of the ones he made for the Cubs last season, when he went 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA to finish second in NL Cy Young Award voting behind Trevor Bauer.
“It’s no secret what we had to do yesterday,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “We’re obviously short-handed in the bullpen and for Yu to go out and give us those seven innings was huge.”
The game marked the 26th time in his career Darvish allowed three hits or fewer in seven innings. He admitted he tried to induce contact…