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The win kept the Cubs tied with Milwaukee for the second National League wild card playoff berth.
The Brewers beat Miami earlier Thursday for their seventh straight win.
Japan's Darvish threw six innings, allowing just two hits with two walks in his second outing since he missed a start because of a tight right forearm.
His 14 strikeouts were just one short of his career best and San Diego put just six balls in play.
His dominance was a welcome sight for the Cubs, who had seen their 3 1/2-game Wild Card lead evaporate in the space of six days thanks to three defeats in Milwaukee and two in San Diego.
Manager Joe Maddon was counselling perseverance before the game, saying panic-induced change wouldn't keep the Cubs in the playoff race.
"Everyone likes anger at these moments or being upset," Maddon said. "It's just not the right way to do things. So far, it's the continuing of the same process."
While the Cubs have struggled on the road, they now head home to Wrigley Field -- where they are 47-24 -- for a 10-game homestand.