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MIL@CHC: Jackson impresses with 11 strikeouts in win

CHICAGO -- Edwin Jackson looked like the pitcher the Cubs wanted when they signed him to a four-year contract. Matt Garza fielded like the pitcher the Cubs traded.

Jackson struck out 11 and served up four hits over seven innings in the Cubs' 3-0 win Saturday over Garza and the Brewers.

The 11 K's were a seasonhigh for Jackson, and marked his seventh-career game in which he's reached double-digit strikeouts. Milwaukee did not record a single fly ball out against Jackson, who has given up four earned runs over 20 innings in his last three starts for a 1.80 ERA. It's the most strikeouts for Jackson since he fanned 11 against the Mets on Aug. 18, 2012.

"You really don't think about too much, you just think about executing pitches," Jackson said. "Whether you fall behind in the count or are ahead in the count, you just try to execute. That's a great hitting team and a team that can play long ball as well. They have guys who can put the ball out of the ballpark and guys who can go gap to gap.

"I just got in a groove, [catcher Welington Castillo] and myself early in the game. We were able to come out and make pitches and let the defense play behind us."

Garza was making his second start this season against his former team, and the second of his career. He beat them at Miller Park on April 25, giving up two runs over seven innings. The right-hander pitched for the Cubs from 2011 until July '13, when he was traded to the Rangers.

Part of the Cubs' plan was to try to throw Garza off. Emilio Bonifacio took advantage of the Brewers' defensive alignment and Garza's reputation for fielding miscues by bunting to lead off the first. Garza did have trouble getting a grip on the ball. Bonifacio advanced on Chris Coghlan's sacrifice, and one out later, Starlin Castro hit an RBI double off the right-field wall. Nate Schierholtz walked, and both he and Castro scored on Castillo's double to left for a 3-0 lead.

Asked if they were trying to take advantage of Garza, Chicago manager Rick Renteria downplayed the back-to-back bunt attempts.

"I'm not going to get into that," Renteria said. "We tried to get on base by putting the ball in his general area early.

"What we were trying to do was just get on base. We were using the bunt early to try to do it. It just worked out. That's the bottom line. The run-producing hits ended up coming with two outs. We had some good at-bats. it was only three runs, and 'Jax' did the rest. He did a great job. You have to tip your hat to him."

Bonifacio said he knew of Garza's defensive yips, but said he was just trying to bunt for a hit. Coghlan also was trying for a bunt single, but he foul-tipped the ball and then went for the sacrifice.

"That was what the plan was, that's what Skip wanted," Coghlan said about the bunt. "[Bonifacio] got a hit, we moved him over and Castro got the big double."

Garza's reaction?

"First inning was a hiccup, and it [stinks]," Garza said. "It's kinda been what it's been like all year, it just [stinks]. I'm just going to keep going, keep grinding, keep working out and keep going. It's going to come together sooner or later."

In nine starts, Garza has given up 10 earned runs in the first inning. He only allowed four hits over seven innings, and he retired 18 of the last 19 batters he faced.

"Garza's not a pushover," Renteria said. "In that particular inning, we just got pitches up that we could handle. We hit and run, and put the ball in play with a hit and run. There were some things that haven't been happening that today did."

Back to Jackson. He made it clear to Renteria in the seventh what his intentions were. The Brewers' Jean Segura had singled with one out when the manager went to the mound. Jackson did most of the talking.

"He wanted it," Renteria said. "I didn't say a whole lot. He said, 'I want this. I got this.' ... There wasn't a whole lot for me to say."

"I just wanted to let him know I wanted to finish that inning," Jackson said. "I'd just given up a single on an 0-2 pitch from not executing a pitch. I felt confident I could go out and finish the inning. He heard me, he listened to me and heard the conviction. I was glad I was able to walk off the field on my own."

Jackson couldn't do that much last season, the first of his four-year deal with the Cubs when he led the National League in losses.

"I felt comfortable last year, but last year I just didn't get the job done," Jackson said. "You just continue to work hard and continue to battle. It's a long season. You just don't want to give in."

With the win, the Cubs snapped a three-game losing streak and now are 12 games behind the NL Central-leading Brewers.

"I believe in these guys," Renteria said of the Cubs. "Are things as well as you'd want them to be? Of course not. It'd be foolish for me to say they're where they're supposed to be. I think we need to play better, we need to go out and continue to perform and do the little things. We have to start doing some things here at home, overcoming some deficits sometimes."

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