Experience seems to be making a world of difference for Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin.
The 26-year-old Rusin did not get the decision in Saturday's 4-3 Cubs victory over the Phillies, but he did pitch 5 innings of 4-hit ball, allowing 3 runs, 2 earned.
A third-inning error by first baseman Anthony Rizzo forced Rusin to throw 16 extra pitches, and he wound up with 84 before coming out for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
Rusin's ERA stands at a solid 2.74 after 9 starts, and his record held at 2-3. Last year, he came up from Class AAA Iowa and went 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA.
Manager Dale Sveum talked of Rusin being able to pitch around trouble by making good pitches when he needs to make them.
Rusin said he feels the difference.
"Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable," he said. "He's right. Last year, I probably would have not been able to throw a strike after what happened. I was so grateful to get out of the inning that you turn around with your defense screwing up or whatever, and you'd have to get back into your zone and lock back in. This year, I'm able to do that.
"It's a lot easier for me having a couple of games under my belt knowing that I can be successful at this level."
Lake's hit parade:
Center fielder Junior Lake snapped an 0-for-13 skid with a single in the third inning. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and has 51 hits in his first 41 games with the Cubs. That leads all major-league rookies since the all-star break.
"We've seen the really good part of Junior," said Dale Sveum. "Obviously, when he got here, he was on fire, swinging the bat well. Now, it's the adjustment factor of having enough at-bats and understanding the other team has seen you. Know and understand the weaknesses and you've got to overcome those and understand there's adjustments to be made in the big leagues because he's got to face some of the best pitching in baseball the last couple of weeks especially."
Outfielder Ryan Sweeney headed to Kane County to play in a rehab game Saturday. He's expected to come off the 60-day disabled list Sunday. Sweeney has been out with a cracked rib.
Third baseman Luis Valbuena (oblique strain) also is at Kane County. The Cubs may give him an extra day there. Right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) will make another rehab start for Kane County on Monday, and the Cubs will evaluate him after that.