CHICAGO -- Yu Darvish discovered he had no margin for error Tuesday well before he embarked on one of his record-setting strikeout performances.
Darvish was tagged for three runs in the first inning, which offset his 13 strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to Sonny Gray and the Reds at Wrigley Field that dropped the Cubs into a tie with the Brewers for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Cubs didn't score after the third as Gray set a major-league record with 32 consecutive starts (excluding openers) allowing six hits or fewer, surpassing a mark held by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
Despite the loss, the Cubs (82-69) remained two games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central.
Darvish also set a franchise record with eight consecutive strikeouts in a game that started with a strikeout of Gray for the second out of the second inning and concluded with a strikeout of Brian O'Grady to end the fourth.
The eight consecutive strikeouts in a game were two shy of the major-league record held by Tom Seaver of the Reds on April 22, 1979.
Darvish has struck out 27 in his last two starts covering 13 innings.
But in the first inning, Joey Votto, who was scratched from Monday's lineup because of illness, returned to hit an RBI double and scored on a towering home run by Aristides Aquino, his sixth in six games against the Cubs.
Kyle Schwarber chipped away at the Reds' lead with a double with two out to score Nicholas Castellanos in the first, and he came through again in the third with a triple down the right-field line with two out to cut the Cubs' deficit to 3-2.
However, Darvish allowed a single to Gray with one out in the fifth, and his only walk of the game to Votto on a 3-2 count brought slugger Eugenio Suarez to the plate.
Darvish put his hands on his hip after home-plate umpire Laz Diaz ruled called a 1-0 pitch a ball, and Suarez singled on the next pitch to score Gray and extend the Reds' lead to 4-2.
Gray and relievers Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias harnessed a Cubs offense that scored 55 runs in its previous four games, the most by the franchise in a four-game span since June 3-6, 1930, at Boston and Brooklyn (56).
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