CINCINNATI -- Chicago Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson is hoping for a strong finish to one of the most difficult seasons in his eight-year major league career.
"It's been a tough year. But I've always been a fighter," said Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract in January. "There has not been one time that I've given in."
On Tuesday night, Jackson delivered on the mound and at the plate when he hurled six shutout innings and hit one of four Cubs homers, including two by catcher Welington Castillo, lifting Chicago to a 9-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Cubs third baseman Donnie Murphy added a two-run home run.
Jackson (8-15) hit his second career home run in the seventh inning off Curtis Partch. He also allowed one earned run and nine hits in seven innings with no walks and four strikeouts.
"He was really good," said Castillo of Jackson. "He was attacking the strike zone. He was getting them to swing early and put the ball in play."
Cincinnati (82-64) swept the first-place Dodgers this past weekend but has since dropped the first two in the three-game series with the last-place Cubs.
"We took three steps forward and two steps back," Reds skipper Dusty Baker said. "You don't like losing and you don't like losing to the Cubs. We have to come back tomorrow."
Things couldn't have gone much worse on Tuesday for Cincinnati, which dropped to third place, three games behind first-place St. Louis, in the National League Central.
"I can't get a grip on it," Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "I don't think anyone wanted to lose two out of three to the Cubs. They're a major league team, but they're in last place and we're trying to chase down a couple of teams in front of us. I don't know if you call it a letdown, or loss of focus."
To make matters worse for Cincinnati, left-handed starter Tony Cingrani, who missed two starts recently while on the disabled list with a lower back strain, left Tuesday's game in the second inning with back spasms after throwing just 37 pitches.
Cingrani (7-4) has been filling Johnny Cueto's spot in the rotation while the ace rehabs a strained lat muscle. Cingrani allowed two runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings in getting his fourth loss on Tuesday.
"It was the same injury to Cingrani," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He warmed up great. He didn't feel anything. In between the first and second he said his back was tight. It was devastating at that point."
Castillo crushed a 3-2 pitch from Cingrani an estimated 470 feet into the left-field bleachers, putting the Cubs ahead 2-0. It was his fifth home run this season. Castillo, who also homered in the seventh off Curtis Partch, went 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
"I feel really happy about my day," Castillo said. "This game is not easy. We just want to finish strong. We've been playing good."
Murphy hit a two-run homer on the first pitch from right-hander Greg Reynolds in the third, making the score 4-0. It was his 10th homer this season.
"The last time they got a lot of runs for me, I gave it up," said Jackson, of an 8-6 loss on Aug. 23. "I wasn't going to do that today. I just wanted to bear down and throw strikes. It was a great day all-around."
Reynolds, one of five Reds relievers used on Tuesday, allowed four runs (three earned) in 1 2/3 innings as the Cubs built a 6-0 lead through four.
Jackson, meanwhile, didn't allow a run until the seventh when Cincinnati got back-to-back doubles by Zack Cozart and Corky Miller. Jackson threw 98 pitches, 68 for strikes.
"He battled," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum of Jackson. "He got a couple double plays when things could've gotten out of hand."
NOTES: Cueto will throw up to 45 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday morning. Cueto, on the disabled list since June 29 with a strained right lat muscle, remains hopeful of a late-season comeback, possibly in a relief role. ... Reds LHP Sean Marshall, on the DL since May 24 with left shoulder tendinitis, threw 23 pitches off the mound to batters. "The shoulder feels strong," Marshall said. "I felt like I executed my pitches. I rolled a couple of curveballs, but that crispness will come back." ... The Cubs are using a six-man rotation for two turns before moving back to a regular five-man rotation. "Nothing changes really," Sveum said. "Everybody will get a little bit of extra rest. (Travis) Wood and Samardzija will pitch against the Cardinals. It actually works out pretty well." ... Cozart's double in the seventh extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. ... The Cubs reached 62 wins to surpass last year's total.