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Cubs 4, Brewers 2: Wada Performance!

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In addition to great pitching, the Cubs won this one in large part because of two players who will be a big part of the team's return to respectability and contention.

Jonathan Daniel

It took six Wrigley Field games before Javier Baez hit a home run in his (we hope) long-term major-league home, but it was worth the wait. Courtesy BCBer ubercubsfan:

The ball landed on Waveland Avenue, across the street on the fly, one of the longest homers hit at Wrigley this year. What you can't see there is the guy who caught it running and dancing around for quite some time. Cubs personnel, who wanted the ball back for Javy, immediately went out to Waveland from inside the ballpark and negotiated with the man for a while before they finally reached a deal. I'm not sure what they gave him, but everyone seemed happy.

Everyone at the ballpark was still buzzing and barely had time to sit down from cheering Baez when Anthony Rizzo sent the very next pitch into the basket just beneath the party patio in right field, nearly hitting the electronic image of Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse on the LED board:

Rizzo's made a habit of crushing the first pitch he sees when he homers. Of his 27 home runs, 11 of them have been hit on the first pitch (and 22 of his 66 career round-trippers also on the first pitch of an at-bat). The back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead after Rizzo and Baez had been at the forefront of a nice first-inning rally that had started with a leadoff double by Chris Coghlan. Baez followed that with a single and took second base when Brewers first baseman Jonathan Lucroy took the relay throw and was looking the other way (though Baez might have been out had Rickie Weeks not dropped the ball). Rizzo's sacrifice fly scored Coghlan and Starlin Castro, who was 3-for-4 on the night, singled in Baez.

That's the entire summary of Cubs scoring, and pretty much the summary of the offense, too. No one but those four had any hits off Lohse and Marco Estrada, who combined for the first seven innings, and only Luis Valbuena (who walked and reached on an error) and Arismendy Alcantara (walk) reached base other than the first four in the lineup.

Sometimes that happens, and it was certainly enough on a night when Tsuyoshi Wada showed everyone why the Orioles signed him to a two-year deal out of Japan in 2012, only to see him succumb to the scourge of modern pitching, Tommy John surgery. Fully recovered now, Wada, who had five decent but not great starts to his name before Wednesday night, mowed down Brewers hitters until the seventh inning. He got to 6⅔ innings pitched with just three hits and a walk allowed before Weeks and Martin Maldonado matched Baez and Rizzo with back-to-back homers. Wada left to warm applause and the Cubs' bullpen, which has been excellent of late, slammed the door. Justin Grimm got the last out of the seventh; Neil Ramirez was touched for a triple down the right-field line by Lucroy, but otherwise was unscored upon; and Hector Rondon (16th save) nearly matched his eight-pitch save from Tuesday night by retiring the Brewers 1-2-3 in the ninth on just 10 pitches (seven strikes).

So who looks like the first-place team? The Brewers sure haven't in the first three games of this series, scoring just five runs in the three games. The Cubs, meanwhile, have gotten hits when they needed them and outstanding starting pitching, and that includes an excellent outing in Monday's loss from Jake Arrieta. In winning four of their last seven games (dating back to the last game of the road trip in Colorado), the Cubs have not allowed more than four runs in any of those games and have given up a total of just 17 runs, an average of just 2.43 per game in that span -- against the teams that rank first and second in the National League in runs.

This from a team that's worried about pitching going forward.

And after playing the fastest Wrigley Field game of the year Tuesday night, the Cubs kept up the trend by playing the third-fastest home contest of 2014 (2:36) and ninth-quickest overall of 2014. I could get real used to this! Seriously, fast-paced games are better for pitchers and fielders, not to mention enjoyable to watch. Of those nine speedy (by 2014 standards) games, the Cubs have won six.

Perhaps that lesson could be imparted to Edwin Jackson, who will take the mound Thursday afternoon at 1:20 CT in the series (and homestand) finale against Milwaukee's Mike Fiers. The Cubs will be going for their second straight Wrigley Field series win over the Brewers. The gamve preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.