The Milwaukee Brewers got exactly what they needed from Mike Fiers in his first major league start in 14 months.
He'll try to build on that stellar effort and lead the Brewers to a split of their four-game road series against the last-place Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
After being called up from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday, Fiers gave up a solo homer, two singles and one walk in eight innings of a 4-1 win over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander, who had four relief appearances in his previous stint with the team in June, was making his first start in the majors since June 2, 2013.
"Here I am again," said Fiers, who held the Cubs to a run over 7 1-3 innings in a 3-1 win at Wrigley Field on Aug. 29, 2012 - his only previous start in this series. "Just trying to show them I can still pitch."
Fiers (1-1, 1.80 ERA) was put in the rotation because Matt Garza is on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Another starter, Kyle Lohse, left after three innings of Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Cubs after aggravating a sprained right ankle.
Now, Fiers will try to help the Brewers (66-55) avoid a third consecutive defeat and their 13th in 18 road games. Despite those recent struggles away from home, they remain 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh and two in front of St. Louis atop the NL Central.
The Brewers were held to six hits for a second straight night Wednesday, while two by the Cubs in the third inning wound up making the difference. Cubs rookie Javier Baez led off the inning by hitting his first home run at Wrigley Field and fourth in nine games, and Anthony Rizzo followed with his 27th and second in as many contests since ending an 18-game drought.
"(Baez) showed you he can drive the ball the other way in situations, so he's making adjustments," manager Rick Renteria told MLB's official website. "He's aware of what he's got to do. It just takes time. He's 21 years old. They're pitching him pretty tough, too."
The Cubs (52-67), winners in 10 of 16, will send out Edwin Jackson (6-12, 5.61), who stymied the Brewers in his only other matchup this year.
The right-hander fanned a season-high 11 in seven innings of a 3-0 win May 17 and is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his last two starts at Wrigley against Milwaukee.
Jackson opened August by allowing two runs in six innings in a 7-3 win over the Dodgers on Aug. 3 - his first in eight outings - but gave up four runs over six innings in a 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
"We can definitely finish on a pretty good note and show what's to come in the future," Jackson said. "Everyone's high intensity, and that's what it's going to take to win ballgames. We're going to lose some here and there, but we'll continue to battle. Things are definitely headed in a positive direction."
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is 9 for 23 against Jackson in the last three seasons with two homers and two doubles. Gerardo Parra has six hits in his last 13 at-bats in their matchups.