Jackson pitches through cramps

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson said he never has had cramping in both his calves before Friday, but that’s exactly what he had to work through during the fifth inning of the Cubs' 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-hander almost didn’t make it out of the frame.

“Was probably the worst balls I’ve thrown,” Jackson said afterward. “Gave them a chance to get back in the game but fortunately was able to finish the inning.”

The Cubs led 5-0 after four innings, and when Jackson walked the first two batters on eight pitches to start the fifth, his outing took on a "here we go again" feeling. Entering the game, Jackson had a 6.19 ERA against the Pirates this season.

“You could see it in the fifth,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He kept bending over. I wasn’t sure if it was his back. I wasn’t sure what it was.”

After the two walks, Jackson gave up a three-run home run to Jordy Mercer and Pittsburgh was within two. But that was the last batter to reach against him as he set down the next three to end his outing. Before the calf issues, Jackson said, he thought he was dealing.

“I felt like they had no chance,” he said. “That was just the mind-frame I was in. They’ve beaten me before. I felt I came out today and the ball was in my court pretty much the whole game.”

Jackson did give up a hit in each of the first three innings, but the Pirates didn’t mount a huge threat until the cramping began. He struck out eight while earning his fifth win. It’s not always pretty, but Jackson does give a gutsy performance every now and again.

“You just try to keep battling and hats off to the bullpen,” Jackson said. “They had to come early into the game.”