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Edwin Jackson's struggles look familiar

CHICAGO -- After a season and a half of Chicago Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson trying to capture some of his past success, it might simply be time to admit that he is what he is: a starter that can’t do much better than allow four to five runs per game.

He can "grind" through outings and battle all he wants, but on most nights, several runs are going to be scored and he’s not going to outpitch his counterpart.

Wednesday was yet another one of those nights:

Jackson went 5⅓ innings while giving up four runs on six hits and four walks in a 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. That’s not a performance that will cost him his job, but it’s not anything a good team wants to see every fifth day, either.

Having said that, the Cubs are not a good team right now anyhow.

"I thought for the most part I was able to contain them until the sixth inning," Jackson said after the loss. "For the most part I feel like I made a couple decent pitches."

Containing them until the sixth inning isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, not when opponent Mat Latos contained the Cubs all the way through seven innings. The latter had nothing to do with Jackson, but where is it written he can’t win a 2-1 or 1-0 game?

"Today was 1-1 ballgame," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Both guys were pitching extremely well. I thought he had a chance to work himself through that inning. It just didn’t work out."

There was a walk, a double, a single and another double before Jackson was chased. In other words, it was a normal one-bad-inning outing for him.

He’s had one too many of those types of outings in his short Cubs career. He has a 5.22 ERA this season after 4.98 last year. Compared to the other Cubs starters, Jackson simply looks like he’s in a different class -- and not in a good way.

"That’s the great thing about starting," Jackson said. "You don’t get the job done one day, the next guy comes back behind you and gets it done.

"Been feeling pretty good. I know the results aren’t quite what they want to be on a consistent basis."

Jackson doesn’t back down from adversity, nor does he hide when things go wrong. He’s like shortstop Starlin Castro that way. Castro wore the blame more often than not last season when he had the worst year of his career. The difference is he rebounded and is earning every penny the Cubs are paying him.

As the Cubs’ big free-agent signing since the current front office took over, Jackson continues to do the opposite. There’s been no rebound year like Castro is having, though Jackson is keeping a positive attitude.

"Things can definitely turn around as quick as they go sour," he said of himself and the team. "I’ve seen crazier things happen in baseball. Teams get down, and, all of a sudden, everyone gets hot. You get on a streak and win seven, eight, nine ballgames in a row, and things turn around pretty fast. We’re definitely not writing the season off."

But the front office is doing just that, as surely as the ivy at Wrigley Field will eventually turn brown again. It’s the cycle the Cubs are in right now, and Jackson hasn’t helped matters.

After all, the streak he talks about can happen only if he pitches better than he has since becoming a Cub. And if and when Chicago trades Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the spotlight will only shine brighter on Jackson. They’ll be getting rid of their best pitchers while keeping a struggling one. It doesn’t seem fair if you’re a Cubs fan; then again, it rarely does anyway.

"He continues to grind," Renteria said. "He’s trying to work through those innings. It just didn’t work out for him today."

Nor most days since he came to Chicago.