Yu Darvish spearheaded the San Diego Padres to a 4-1 win over the New York Mets on Friday, striking out nine in a lights-out start against the National League East leaders.
Darvish (9-4) allowed one run on four hits and a walk over seven innings as he outdueled three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (6-2) at Citi Field.
The Japanese right-hander allowed a first-inning single but followed that by retiring 10 straight. He did not surrender a run until Luis Guillorme's two-out RBI double in the seventh.
"This time I threw a lot of splitters," Darvish said. "I forgot about earlier results and tried not to cut any corners in preparation."
The 35-year-old said he was focused on carrying over his strong form from before the All-Star break for the 53-42 Padres, currently second in the NL West.
"Last year, the team did not have a good second half, so I want to be thorough so we can avoid repeating that," he said.
Nick Martinez, who spent four seasons in Japan, won nine games last year for the Pacific League's SoftBank Hawks and started the Tokyo Olympics gold medal game for the United States, worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Padres.
At Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, Seiya Suzuki went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and two runs for the Chicago Cubs, who clobbered the Philadelphia Phillies 15-2.
Suzuki gave the Cubs a 15-1 lead with his seventh home run in the top of the ninth, launching a 1-1 fastball from Garrett Stubbs 130 meters over center field.
"I was playing a little bit over my head today, but the more games we win the better," said Suzuki, who said MLB's all-star break presented a new challenge for him.
He was a five-time all-star in Japan, where players not taking part in the big games attend team practices.
"In Japan, I didn't have such a long extended layoff, so I didn't know what I should do, so I slept," Suzuki said. "I was able to really rest."
At Fenway Park, Hirokazu Sawamura was one of two Boston Red Sox pitchers who did not give up runs in a staggering 28-5 capitulation to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The right-hander struck out one in a 1-2-3 eighth with the result already beyond doubt for the Blue Jays, who racked up their highest score in club history.