Perhaps some incentive of returning to Wrigley Field will help Yu Darvish build on one of his best outings for the San Diego Padres.

Back in Chicago for the first time since leaving the Cubs prior to the 2021 season, the veteran right-hander tries to help the Padres avoid a third straight defeat and extend his former club’s season-high losing streak to seven games on Monday night.

Before being traded to San Diego in late December 2020, Darvish (5-3, 3.61 ERA) went 15-14 with a 3.60 in 51 starts over three seasons for Chicago. He also overcame a triceps issue in 2018 to finish second in the 2020 NL Cy Young Award race.

Darvish allowed two runs, three hits and two walks while striking out eight during San Diego’s 3-1 home loss to the Cubs in 2021. However, he finally gets this reunion at Wrigley, where he went 7-10 with a 4.14 ERA in 27 starts for Chicago.

Since joining the Padres, Darvish is 13-14 with a 4.04 ERA in 41 starts. However, he kept the New York Mets hitless until the sixth inning Tuesday while fanning six in seven innings without a walk in the 7-0 victory.

“When he’s on, he’s on,” teammate Manny Machado told the Padres’ official website. “When he’s out there dealing like he was (against the Mets), it’s fun.”

Darvish, who last won consecutive starts April 29 and May 6, is 2-2 with a 5.82 ERA in six road starts. Meanwhile, Yan Gomes has enjoyed the most consistent success of any Chicago hitter vs. Darvish, going 4-for-8.

The Padres have dropped two straight following a 7-1 stretch that began with three consecutive wins at Milwaukee. They’ve scored two runs in each of the last three games after averaging 7.3 in the previous seven. They’re coming off a split of a four-game series to Colorado.

However, the Cubs have been outscored 49-15 during a skid that reached six games following Sunday’s brutal 18-4 loss to the Yankees in New York.

Chicago is 13 games under .500, but Ian Happ has batted .425 with nine extra-base hits over his last 11 games. He went 4-for-12 with three RBIs while the Cubs took two of three at San Diego from May 9-11.

With a rotation battered by injuries and starters posting a 12.34 ERA in the last four games, the Cubs turn to Justin Steele (1-5, 4.79 ERA), whose only win came versus Milwaukee in his 2022 debut on April 9.

However, the left-hander looks to build on a solid outing from June 5, when he gave up seven hits and three walks, but only two runs (one earned) in matching his career high of seven innings in Chicago’s 5-3 home loss to St. Louis in 11 innings.

“The main thing was just commanding that four-seam (fastball) down and in to the righties,” said Steele, who received some advice from former Cubs pitcher Jon Lester.

“It just kinda opens everything up in my repertoire.”

Steele, 1-3 with a 3.69 ERA while making seven of his 11 starts this season at home, faces San Diego for the first time. He must contend with Manny Machado, who is batting .323, and went 4-for-11 versus Chicago last month.

San Diego’s Luke Voit, who homered in Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to Colorado, went deep twice against the Cubs this season.

–Field Level Media