Mike Fiers has stepped back into the Milwaukee Brewers' rotation in a big way — and when they needed a boost.
Fiers struck out a career-high 14 in six innings of three-hit ball, Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds homered, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 on Thursday.
Fiers (2-1) dominated and walked only one in his second start this season since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville to face the Dodgers last Saturday. In that one, he pitched eight strong innings and outdueled Zack Greinke for his first win this season.
"I was striking out a bunch of guys," Fiers said. "I definitely knew it was getting up there."
Scooter Gennett drove in two runs with a double, and Elian Herrera and Carlos Gomez each had RBIs for the Brewers.
Fiers made four relief appearances with the Brewers during two weeks in June. But with Matt Garza on the DL and Kyle Lohse nursing a tweaked ankle, Fiers' splashy return as a starter is giving the Brewers a timely lift.
"Yeah I got sent to Triple-A, but it didn't kill me confidence to send me down," Fiers said. "I just had to wait for my opportunity and do it now."
Manager Ron Roenicke thinks Fiers looks as sharp as he was in 2012, when the right-hander was 8-6 with a 2.85 ERA through August.
"It's impressive," Roenicke said. "He looks like the same guy — just confident, great fastball, able to throw the off-speed when he wants to, not walking people."
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (6-13) lasted 4 2-3 innings and allowed five runs before being lifted for Jacob Turner, who pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings in his Cubs debut. Jackson has lost six of his last seven decisions.
"I never felt like I got in a rhythm," Jackson said. "I felt like I was here and there. I never found that happy medium, either I was too low or too high."
The Brewers broke through after scoring just five runs in the previous three games in the series — and six in their last four contests — despite resting Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura.
Braun was held out the lineup with a sore right hand. Roenicke said Braun has been experiencing a flare-up of a nagging injury.
Roenicke said he noticed a difference in Braun's swing on Wednesday.
Brewers: Lohse (11-7) could miss his next start with a right ankle "tweak" he picked up in an at-bat in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Cubs, but Roenicke won't make a decision for a few days. The Brewers have an off-day next Tuesday, making the adjustment to their rotation possible. "I'd hate to put him back out there again if that thing is still going to bother him," Roenicke said.
Cubs: OF Justin Ruggiano batted seventh and played right field. Ruggiano sat out Wednesday's game after leaving Tuesday night because of a groin strain.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (2-3, 4.00) faces Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (12-8, 2.84) at Los Angeles on Friday.
Cubs: LHP Travis Wood (7-9, 4.86) starts against New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (7-8, 3.53). Wood hasn't won since beating Philadelphia on June 15 and is on a four-game losing streak.
GETTING THE CALL
Cubs RHP Dan Straily will start Saturday against the Mets. Straily, acquired July 4 as part of the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland Athletics, is currently at Triple-A Iowa and will be used to help give Cubs starters an extra day of rest during a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.
The Cubs play on Chicago's North Side, but are backing the South Side Jackie Robinson West team that began play in the Little League World Series on Thursday. Cubs player were given T-shirts that read "CUBS (heart symbol) JRW" on the front and "ONE CITY" on the back to recognize Jackie Robinson West, which is comprised of all African-American players and the first team from its league to make an appearance in the event in 31 years.