CHICAGO — Mark Teixeira saw a couple changeups that went up and away. Curtis Granderson said it was inside, outside and down in the zone the entire game, never much to hit.
Doug Davis just baffled ‘em, all day long.
“There’s no patterns,” Teixeira said. “You don’t really know where the ball is going to go.”
Davis pitched into the eighth inning in easily his best start of the season and the Chicago Cubs began a rare series against the New York Yankees with a 3-1 victory on Friday.
“I was able to get ahead a lot,” Davis said. “I was throwing strikes with all of my pitches, except for my curveball. For the most part, I was able to keep them off balance and execute pitches when I had to.”
Aramis Ramirez hit a pair of RBI singles and made a couple nice plays in the field for Chicago, which has won four of five after dropping a season-high 14 games under .500. Starlin Castro doubled twice and is batting .458 (11 for 24) in the last six games.
A season-high crowd of 42,219 packed Wrigley Field for the Bronx Bombers’ first trip to the neighborhood ballpark in eight years. There was a smattering of “Let’s go Yankees!” chants but the mostly red-and-blue clad fans were firmly behind the Cubs on a sunny, breezy afternoon.
“The biggest crowd of the year, but the best crowd,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “These two cities are so well represented. It was better than the Boston series for me. I know I’m home and all the rest of it, but the electricity was something special.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was born in Peoria, went to college at nearby Northwestern and rooted for the Cubs when he was a kid. He also played six seasons for the Cubs during two stints with the club that drafted him in 1986.
“Whenever I come back here, I see people that I know,” Girardi said, “so I mean that part was nice.”
Girardi and the Yankees rolled into Chicago coming off a three-game sweep against AL champion Texas and winners of six of seven overall. But they were never able to solve Davis, who entered with an 0-5 record and a 5.90 ERA in six starts this season.
Robinson Cano and Eduardo Nunez had the Yankees’ only hits off Davis before Nick Swisher doubled with one out in the eighth to chase the soft-tossing left-hander.
Davis (1-5) received a thunderous ovation as he left the mound following his longest start since he pitched eight innings in a 5-2 victory for Arizona at Wrigley Field on Oct. 4, 2009. It also was his first victory since May 5, 2010, for Milwaukee at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“The main thing is I’ve been struggling with is walks,” said Davis, who issued three walks against New York. “That’s something I definitely wanted to fix today. Although I walked a few, I was able to execute a pitch to get out of the situation. I’m happy with the way I threw and happy I got my first win out of the way as a Cub.”
Sean Marshall struck out Granderson before Teixeira lined an RBI single into center field to trim Chicago’s lead to 3-1. Quade then went to closer Carlos Marmol, who struck out Alex Rodriguez to end the inning and closed it out for his 14th save.
Marmol got a boost in the ninth when defensive replacement Reed Johnson made an outstanding sliding catch along the left-field line to take away an extra-base hit away from Cano.
“I take pride in my defense and work hard at it over the years,” Johnson said. “Especially the leadoff hitter in an inning, that’s always a key out for a pitcher.”
The Yankees went on to put runners on first and second, but Marmol struck out pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson to end the game.
“It was a perfect day, for the Cubs,” Rodriguez said.
Freddy Garcia (5-6) shook off a slow start and worked seven solid innings for the Yankees, allowing three runs and six hits. The right-hander struck out three and walked two.
Chicago got to Garcia for two in the first and one in the third. Ramirez had an run-scoring single in each inning, and Castro doubled in Kosuke Fukudome in the first.
Ramirez also made one of his best plays in the field, charging in to barehand Russell Martin’s slow roller to third before making a strong throw to first.
“He made some plays last night, too,” Quade said. “Maybe he’s feeling it a little bit and I certainly hope so. Don’t change a thing for another four months, please.”
NOTES: The game was delayed for a couple minutes before the third inning. Girardi said there was a light either on the corner of camera well in center field or just beyond it. … Former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now an executive with Major League Baseball, was on the field before the game and spent some time with Girardi and Quade. Torre’s right arm was in a sling after undergoing rotator cuff surgery. … Girardi said he might give regular designated hitter Jorge Posada a start at first base during New York’s six-game trip to Chicago and Cincinnati. Posada was batting .457 (16 for 35) in his last nine games heading into Friday, and Girardi is hoping he can stay sharp during the stint at NL parks. … Seth Meyers, the head writer of “Saturday Night Live,” led the singing of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.