Jackson pitches over 'dark cloud'

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson said he felt like a "dark cloud" has been following him since it seems as if every time he pitches the Cubs have weather issues to deal with. He also could be referring to his start to the season when he didn't win a game until mid-May.

That black cloud didn't stop him from throwing one of his best games of the season on Wednesday night -- despite a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay -- in beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 at Wrigley Field.

Jackson went eight innings, giving up eight hits and one run. It's a big change from the start of the season when he was getting beat almost every time he took the mound. His ERA after four months has lowered to 4.65. He has been getting better and better.

"His fastball since the fourth or fifth start of the year, it's creating a lot of ground balls," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said after the game. "He has a ratio of ground balls to fly balls like a power-type sinker guy right now. It's 2-to-1. It's off the charts for a guy that's not Derek Lowe or Kevin Brown or [Jake] Peavy."

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jackson induced 16 ground balls of the 27 balls put into play against him Wednesday. That's more than his season average and his 12 ground-ball outs were the third most by him this season and more than his 7.9 average per game.

So what has been different?

"I feel the same," Jackson said. "The only thing that is different is the stats of the games. They look different. Throwing strikes [too]. I'd say that's the biggest difference, coming out and attacking the strike zone early. Putting the pressure on the hitters to put the ball in play and let the defense work behind me."

That's exactly what Jackson did as he noted the entire infield made big plays on those ground-ball outs. His only concern was the rain. After 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, the game was halted. Jackson would have been done if the delay had gone five more minutes than it did.

"I listened to music, rode the bike, just sit and wait," Jackson said. "Was hoping it [the delay] wasn't going past 10 p.m. or else I would have been done."