ATLANTA -- Yu Darvish has been slightly worse on the road than at home this season, but by holding the right-hander back to face the Braves in Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs avoided risking their key offseason acquisition getting booed again at Wrigley Field.
Darvish, hardly living up to his six-year, $126 million contract so far, takes an 0-3 record and 6.00 ERA into his return from the 10-day disabled list Tuesday night as the Cubs open a three-game series at SunTrust Park.
The 31-year-old native of Japan was in line to come off the DL and start Monday's makeup game in Chicago against the Braves, but manager Joe Maddon pushed up Jose Quintana to make the start instead.
Quintana, though, allowed three homers in 4 1/3 innings and the National League East-leading Braves defeated the Cubs 6-5 to complete a 6-1 road trip.
Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 3.21 ERA) will start for the Braves (25-15) opposite Darvish as the Cubs (21-17) try to stay close to the top in the NL Central.
Darvish was booed by his home fans on May 2 after giving up nine hits and six runs (five earned) over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Then Darvish's stock with Wrigley Field patrons fell further when he was scratched from his next scheduled start and put on the DL because of the flu.
Maddon said holding Darvish back until the Cubs got to Atlanta was to just give him "one extra day" and denied that the pitcher was being kept away from a negative home crowd.
"We took advantage of the schedule," Maddon told reporters. "I know that's going to be easy to look at and say we did that. (But) we wanted to gather as much time as we can coming off (him) being ill."
Darvish, though, had already lost to the Braves once at Wrigley Field, lasting just 4 1/3 innings on April 13, and there was no point to risking a second defeat.
Darvish has made it to the sixth inning in just two of his six starts while going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA at home and 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA on the road.
That is certainly not what the Cubs were expecting or what they are paying for from Darvish.
The Cubs have had Darvish adjust his delivery and eliminate his double leg kick, but they remain confident that he has just gotten off to a bad start with a new team.
"The guy's been really good for so many years and has an outstanding arm," Maddon told reporters. "I think sometimes he gets a little bit speeded up in what he's doing. He and I have talked about that. There's too much success there for me to worry about that. I think he needs to slow things down, not unlike some other guys I've worked with who have pitched for a bit and played for a bit."
Foltynewicz bounced back from his worst start of the season to allow just three hits over five scoreless innings in a victory over the Marlins in Miami on Wednesday, but he continued his inability to go deep into games.
Foltynewicz, who is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two career games against the Cubs, has completed six innings in just two of his eight starts this season.
The Braves are a National League-best 17-8 in the road, but 8-7 at home after being swept in a three-game series by the San Francisco Giants prior to their just-concluded road trip.
The bitter taste of that sweep, though, seemed to be wiped away by a team dinner at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa prior to a two-game sweep of the Rays at St. Petersburg.
"I think that off-day (last Monday) was huge after getting swept at home," first baseman Freddy Freeman said. "We had a little team dinner when we got to Tampa (Sunday night). You just forget about that and go back out and play. We've been able to bounce back when we've had our tough little stretches."