Edwin Jackson turned in his best start in a Cubs uniform in a game that could've served as a referendum for his four-year, $52 million deal.
Jackson out-pitched former teammate Matt Garza -- who earned a four-year, $50 million deal from Milwaukee in January -- as the Cubs beat the Brewers, 3-0, Saturday afternoon in front of 36,671 at Wrigley Field.
Jackson paced the Cubs with seven shutout innings, striking out 11 while only allowing four hits and one walk. The 11 strikeouts were the most Jackson's had with the Cubs and his highest total since Aug. 18, 2012 while with Washington.
"I felt pretty good today," Jackson said. "The past few starts I've been feeling better and better. It definitely helps when you get some run support."
The Cubs handed Jackson an early three-run lead, with Starlin Castro delivering an RBI double and Welington Castillo a two-run double in the first inning. Manager Rick Renteria talked before Saturday's game about the importance of getting to Garza early, and the Cubs did just that.
Garza settled down and dominated the next six innings, allowing just two baserunenrs between the second and seventh innings. But Jackson matched him pitch for pitch, allowing only two hits and one walk in innings two through seven.
"They staked him to an early three-run lead and he didn't have to go out there and nibble, really," Brewers third baseman Mark Reynolds, who went 0-3 with two strikeouts against Jackson, said. "He could just pitch his game. I think if he felt like he was going to make a mistake, it wasn't going to hurt him much."
Jackson's thrown well in his last three starts, allowing four runs over 20 innings with 23 strikeouts, three walks and one home run allowed. It's a small step, but for the 30-year-old righty who posted a 4.98 ERA last year -- his worst ERA since 2007, his first full year as a starter -- it's an encouraging sign.
"He's fortunately for us gotten seemingly a little better every time he's gone on," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "And today was certainly his best outing of the season for us."