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Starlin Castro has his 'best day of the year'

Starlin Castro went 3-for-4 against the Giants on Tuesday with a home run a double and two runs scored. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

SAN FRANCISCO -- Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon called it arguably Starlin Castro's "best day of the year." The much-maligned shortstop turned second baseman -- who was playing short again on Tuesday -- went 3-for-4 with a single, double and home run in the Cubs' 8-5 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Castro and Cubs hitting coach John Mallee finally found a way for him to reach the outside pitch without rolling it over to short.

"We did a little bit of adjustment," Castro said after the game. "Get a little bit closer to home plate."

Is that all it took? Castro was all over the place with contact on Tuesday. In the third inning, he got the Cubs' first hit of the game singling through the hole at second base. In the fourth, he doubled to right-center. And then in the sixth, he crushed a ball out to left field for his first home run since June 12.

"That's a nice sign for us," Maddon said. "He looked different and better today."

And that could be huge for the Cubs down the stretch. Castro has been humbled by his benching. He no longer cares what position he plays or where he bats in the lineup; he just wants in on a winning team. And if it means finally adjusting his stance to reach outside pitches with better contact then maybe he's finally had that epiphany everyone has been waiting on.

"No one is throwing in right now," Castro said. "If we're close to the plate, every pitch in is going to be a ball. That's the adjustment we did today. And it worked."

Castro hit a ball to right-center again in his final at-bat -- a few more feet into the gap and he might have hit for the cycle. But the Cubs will take the first day of a possibly -- maybe -- a new Castro.

"Starlin probably had his best day of the year," Maddon said.