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CHC@CIN: Jackson dominates Reds on mound, at plate

CINCINNATI -- The party came a day late, but Edwin Jackson celebrated his birthday in a big way on Tuesday.

One day after turning 30, the Cubs right-hander not only tossed seven innings of one-run ball, he also scored twice and hit the second home run of his career on the way to a 9-1 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

"It was a great day all around," Jackson said. "Last time the team came out and scored a lot of runs for me, I gave it up, so I definitely had that in my mind that I won't do that today."

Powered by the first two-home run effort of Welington Castillo's career, the Cubs scored six runs in the first four innings on Tuesday. Chicago batters gave Jackson a similar lead in San Diego on Aug. 23, only to have him give up six runs in six innings en route to a loss.

Determined to not let that happen again, Jackson scattered nine hits while striking out four and not walking a batter. In his best start since July, he didn't allow a run until Corky Miller's RBI double in the seventh, but by then the game was well in hand.

"He battled," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Jackson. "Got a lot of foul balls early and then settled down and got two big, huge double-play balls when it looked like things could get out of hand. Obviously the offense gave him a big cushion there, and he finished it off."

Jackson entered winless in his last six starts, giving up 22 earned runs in 33 2/3 innings (5.88 ERA). The difference between that stretch and his impressive July -- in which he went 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts -- was simple, according to Jackson.

"I think the biggest thing before that I could take from July was the strike-to-ball ratio," said Jackson, who threw 68 of his 98 pitches for strikes. "These last four or five starts, I have been just the opposite. I was behind in the count a lot and not able to make pitches. Just fortunate enough tonight to come out and be able to make some pitches in some key situations and get a lot of run support to back it up."

Castillo opened the scoring for the Cubs in the second when he drilled a 470-foot moonshot off left-hander Tony Cingrani. Along with being the fifth homer of the year for Castillo, it was the third longest of the season at Great American Ball Park.

But was it the longest one Castillo has ever hit?

"I don't think so, but I know it went a long way," the Cubs catcher said with a smile. "I didn't try to do it, I just tried to hit the ball hard somewhere."

Castillo's bomb also marked the second-to-last batter Cingrani faced, as the Reds starter exited with back spasms after forcing a Ryan Sweeney flyout.

In the third, the Cubs had no trouble getting to Cingrani's replacement, right-hander Greg Reynolds. Third baseman Donnie Murphy connected for Chicago's second two-run homer, followed by consecutive singles, the second of which from Darnell McDonald scored Junior Lake, who had advanced to second an error by Reds right fielder Jay Bruce.

The Cubs tacked on another run in the fourth, as Jackson reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a play at the plate on a Darwin Barney sacrifice fly to make it 6-0. Two innings later, Murphy collected his third RBI on a two-out double.

Castillo hit his second homer of the night in the seventh -- a 411-foot blast to center -- two batters before Jackson added the Cubs' final run on a 370-foot solo shot to left.

The Cubs have scored 11 runs in the first two games of the series against the Reds, with all but three coming on home runs.

"That's how we score," Sveum said. "Today we did a little bit otherwise, too."

After consecutive doubles gave the Reds their only run in the bottom of the seventh, Jackson forced two lineouts to end the frame and his night. Chang-Yong Lim replaced Jackson and worked around a hit batter, single and a walk to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Justin Grimm pitched a perfect ninth.

Along with the three-hit, three-RBI performance out of Castillo, and Murphy's big game, Lake and shortstop Starlin Castro also picked up a pair of hits.

With the Cubs earning a shutout victory to open the series on Monday, Chicago has now won back-to-back games against Cincinnati for the first time since Sept. 7 and 12, 2011. And after winning just three games in the first 16 meetings this season, the Cubs will have a chance to double that total on Wednesday.

"What can I say? We've been pitching good, we've been hitting their pitchers, too," Castillo said. "I think it has nothing to do with them being a good team, just sometimes we're going to play better and be better."

While much of that has been the result of the Cubs playing well, the Reds have also squandered opportunities, going 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the two games.

"[Hitting] has let us down the last couple of days," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Every time we got something going, we had a double play in there somewhere to wipe out the inning."

Tuesday's win was Chicago's 62nd of the season, eclipsing the team's total of 61 from 2012. Although it's been a bumpy ride for the Cubs and Jackson, who entered the game with a 7-15 record and a 4.91 ERA, he said it's important to try to finish strong.

"It's been a tough year, but there's not been one time where I've given in," Jackson said. "I'm a big believer, regardless how tough it gets, you can either fold or you can just continue to fight back. And as long as the guys in here know that you're not a quitter, it doesn't change the approach."

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