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updated: 4/8/2014 11:13 PM

Castro's 2 homers not enough; Jackson struggles

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  • Starlin Castro celebrates after hitting his second home run against the Pirates on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

      Starlin Castro celebrates after hitting his second home run against the Pirates on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

If there's a phrase or two that describes the Cubs' lineup these days, it's "under construction" or "work in progress."

And it's going to stay that way.

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Along the same vein, if there's a phrase that describes pitcher Edwin Jackson, it might be "cost overrun."

Few things get fans going like the construction of the lineup on a daily basis or wondering when Jackson is going to start flashing the form that team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer had in mind when they signed him to a four-year, $52 million contract before last season.

Jackson may or not be a lost cause. He lasted just 4⅔ innings Tuesday in the Cubs' 7-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first night game of the season at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs' lineup is ever-changing, but manager Rick Renteria looks to have hit on to a couple of things with leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio and the moving of Starlin Castro down to the sixth spot in the order.

Bonifacio, who entered the game 14-for-28, picked up 3 singles. He also stole third base in the bottom of the seventh inning and scored to tie the game at 6-6 on Anthony Rizzo's single.

Castro enjoyed the first multihomer game of his career as he connected on a 3-run line shot in the third inning and a solo blast in the sixth.

"I think it's just like anything, he's starting to get into a rhythm," said Renteria, who was ejected in the ninth inning for complaining about balls and strikes to plate umpire Jeff Nelson. "He's got some guys get on base ahead of him. He's seen a lot of good at-bats from his teammates."

Renteria dropped Castro to sixth in Sunday's victory over the Phillies, and Castro had an RBI double.

With six left-handed hitters, six right-handed hitters and switch hitter Bonifacio on the roster, expect the mixing and matching to continue.

"At this point, we're still pretty much allowing these guys the opportunity to go ahead and use the splits that exist, righty-lefty," Renteria said. "But at some point, again, these guys will end up playing against righties and lefties.

"I think it's just a matter of me seeing … it's the seventh game into the season. A lot of those things are giving me a lot of information and feedback, leading me to where we might ultimately go."

The Pirates jumped on Jackson with a 4-spot in the first inning, but Castro's homer tied it in the third. The good feeling didn't last too long because Jackson surrendered single runs in each of the next two innings.

"They came out aggressive, and I left a lot of balls out and over the plate," Jackson said, "which is a bad combination for our team and for a team like that. Our team did a good job coming back and fighting back.

"At the end of the day, I've just got to do a better job of getting the ball and executing pitches."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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