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MIL@CHC: Jackson fans four over eight frames

CHICAGO -- Apparently, Edwin Jackson doesn't mind a little rain.

Anthony Rizzo belted a two-run home run, Starlin Castro added a solo shot and David DeJesus drove in three runs to back Jackson, who continued his second-half resurgence and lifted the Cubs to a 6-1 victory Wednesday night over the Brewers, avoiding the sweep.

Rain stopped play with two outs in the Brewers' sixth, but Jackson returned after the 66-minute delay. The Cubs were going to let the right-hander continue if he was on the mound within one hour. Jackson just made it. He was back on the mound in 55 minutes from when the game was stopped. What did he do during the break?

"I listened to music, rode the bike, and just sat and waited and hoped it didn't go past 10 [p.m.] because I would've been done," Jackson said. "I just tried to stay loose any way you can and stay relaxed, but still focused at the same time."

He recalled a game against the Tigers once when he had to wait an hour because of rain, yet still finished the game. The Brewers figured Jackson would return.

"That guy is known for eating up innings, and I wasn't surprised at all," Jonathan Lucroy said. "He throws a lot of pitches, stays in there, is a grinder. So I wasn't surprised at all."

This isn't the first time nature has messed up one of Jackson's starts. One of his best outings was May 28 against the White Sox, when rained postponed the game after 3 1/3 innings.

"I'm the rain man," Jackson said. "I'm the designated rain man. It seems like mostly every start we've had that's been rained out has been on my day. I don't know, maybe a black cloud is trying to follow me."

There's a silver lining. The right-hander won for the fourth time in his last six starts, scattering eight hits, including an RBI double by Lucroy in the eighth, over eight innings. He completed five July starts with a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs over 34 1/3 innings).

"His fastball, since the fourth or fifth start of the year, he's creating a lot of ground balls and getting late action," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He's got a ratio of ground ball to fly ball like a power-type sinker guy now. It's two-to-one, and it's off the charts for a guy like Derek Lowe and Kevin Brown and [Jake] Peavy, who make their living on ground balls.

"At the beginning of the year, every ground ball he gave up found a hole, and now they're going at people," Sveum said.

DeJesus walked with one out in the third, moved up on a wild pitch, and scored one out later on Rizzo's 15th home run to straightaway center off a 3-1 changeup from Wily Peralta.

Castro made it 3-0 with his seventh home run with one out in the fourth. One out later, Cody Ransom walked and Jackson was safe on a fielding error by shortstop Jeff Bianchi as the ball deflected off his glove. DeJesus then lined a ball off Peralta's leg for a single, which allowed Ransom to score.

Alfredo Figaro took over for Peralta after the rain delay, and Welington Castillo greeted him with a single. Ransom doubled, ending an 0-for-22 skid, and one out later, both scored on DeJesus' single.

The Brewers had chances. Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to lead off the third and moved up on a sacrifice bunt, but was stranded as Jackson struck out Rickie Weeks and Ransom made a nice backhanded stop on Norichika Aoki's grounder down the line. Lucroy tried to score from second with one out in the fourth on Caleb Gindl's single, but left fielder Julio Borbon overran the ball, then recovered in time to throw him out at the plate.

With the win, the Cubs finished July with a 14-13 record, their first winning month since going 15-10 last July. Rizzo and Castro are key parts of the Cubs' future, and even though the team passed at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Sveum said they felt as if they made a major acquisition when DeJesus was activated from the disabled list July 24. He's batting .355 since coming back.

"[Rizzo and Castro] are pieces of the puzzle that we need to drive runs in and get hits and do things like that, but it was like us trading for a new player when we got DeJesus back in the lineup," Sveum said. "He gives you quality at-bats and he's the one guy who has hit all year with men in scoring position. That was our trade about a week ago."

The Cubs players are glad the trade talk is over.

"Everything's rumors now," Rizzo said. "One person can send out a tweet and it's a big headline rumor. ... I know a few guys are happy to still be here. We're happy to have this team. You never want to lose anyone."

"It's a relief that we don't have to answer any questions anymore," Jackson said. "Now, everything is done, we've made every trade we're going to make. Now we can play baseball and concentrate on what we need to concentrate on."

The Cubs have two months remaining, and a .500 record is not out of the question.

"You expect to be in ballgames like we have, win ballgames, improve," Sveum said of expectations for the final two months. "We still have young guys who have to improve. That's the bottom line is getting guys to improve and make adjustments and do things whether it's on the mound or defense or whatever." Comments