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updated: 7/11/2013 11:47 PM

Jackson's turnaround key to Cubs win

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson earned his third straight victory by shutting down the Cardinals on Thursday night.

      Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson earned his third straight victory by shutting down the Cardinals on Thursday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

Edwin Jackson is the first to admit he didn't make a good first impression with the Cubs.

But as long as he makes a good lasting impression, that's all that will matter.

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After a brutal start to his first season with the Cubs, Jackson has begun to turn things around. He earned his third straight victory Thursday night as the Cubs took the series opener from the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 at Wrigley Field.

Jackson worked 7 innings, tying his season high. He gave up 3 hits while walking no one and striking out five.

Back on May 5, Jackson was 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA. During his current three-game winning streak, he sports a 1.93 ERA. For the season he's 6-10 with a 5.11 ERA.

"Like I told you guys earlier in the season when I was struggling, it's a crazy game," he said. "You just have to keep throwing. You just have to have confidence that things will change, and the ball will roll your way.

"I've had some slow seasons. This is probably the craziest start I've ever had in baseball. But it's a game of grinding it out.

"As long as you believe and you have the confidence that you can come in and you can turn things around, that's all that matters. No one expected me to start like I did -- myself, the front office, the team, the manager.

"It's a game. You have to keep grinding. You can either sink, or you can swim. I'm definitely one of those guys that won't give up."

There's the long term within a season, and there's the long term over the life of a contract. Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs last winter. He wasn't expected to be the ace, but he was expected to be better than how he started.

But sometimes things just have to play out.

"For them, it's a 32-start season," manager Dale Sveum said of his starting pitchers. "You let things go, and obviously, things have been coming together a lot better the last 4-5 starts for him. Obviously tonight he was really sharp against the best offense in baseball."

A couple of other things came together for the Cubs. Young hitters Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo combined to go 5-for-7. Rizzo drove in all 3 runs, with a first-inning double and a third-inning single.

The reconfigured bullpen also is showing some signs of being better than what the Cubs trotted out there early in the season.

There were a few scary moments in the eighth inning, but Blake Parker, James Russell and Pedro Strop got the job done. Strop ended the inning by striking out the dangerous Carlos Beltran on a slider after blowing a fastball by him. That stranded two runners.

Kevin Gregg stranded two in the ninth, as an error on his part led to a tense finish. Gregg wound up with his 16th save.

"It's a much more functional bullpen than we've had before," Sveum said. "We have Strop with the power and the power breaking stuff, as well. Then you can mix and match in the middle of an inning, especially when your starters go that long.

"You can do so many different things with your bullpen that I hadn't been able to do before."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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