Hammel bounces back to earn 14th win

Hammel bounces back to earn 14th win

CHICAGO -- Jason Hammel may not have been happy at being pulled after 2 1/3 innings in his last start, but the Cubs right-hander didn't want to be a distraction and got back on track Wednesday night.

Hammel posted a quality start and picked up his 14th win in the Cubs' 6-5 victory over the Pirates. It was his sixth straight win at home, and he's compiled an 0.69 ERA in that stretch, giving up three earned runs over 39 innings.

He wasn't happy with the early exit Saturday, and met with manager Joe Maddon after that game in Los Angeles.

"That's rear-view mirror now," Hammel said. "Joe and I talked it out. There's no room for off-the-field b.s. or disagreements or to hold a grudge. He told me how he felt. I told him how I felt. We're grown men; we solved it. You have to respect each other's views and opinions. To carry something like that would mess up something special."

Hammel had thrown 39 pitches and gave up three runs in the Cubs' 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, and the Cubs had flip-flopped him with lefty Mike Montgomery, who was coming off a 91-pitch outing. Montgomery will face the Giants on Thursday.

"The last one didn't sit well with me, and so far, so good," said Hammel, who struck out six and walked three over six innings, giving up one run.

"He was pounding the strike zone pretty much," Maddon said of the right-hander's Wednesday win. "He's pitched well here; that's part of the gig, too. Early on, he took command better and got off to a better start."

Hammel tested the Cubs' patience in the fifth when he walked three, including pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, but he escaped a bases-loaded mess. He also got plenty of help from his defense, highlighted by a stellar catch by shortstop Addison Russell to end the seventh and leave the bases loaded.

"We're spoiled with the defense we have," Hammel said. "Just put it in play."

What was the difference for the right-hander? Hammel said he threw more changeups than he had in previous outings, and they were effective.

"I felt like, overall, I was able to add a new pitch, and that goes into the scouting report to different teams," he said. "I shocked myself at how good [the changeup] was."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.