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How They Won: Lackey dominates with curve, down in strike zone

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

John Lackey continued his success on the mound for the Cubs by keeping the ball low and using his curveball in Chicago's 8-1 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday.

Since the start of May, Lackey ranks second among qualified pitchers in WHIP at 0.79, behind Clayton Kershaw's 0.54. Lackey also ranks fourth in ERA (1.59) in that time span.

Lackey's continued success starts off with keeping the ball low in the strike zone -- 68 percent of his pitches Wednesday were in the lower half of the zone. In each of his last four starts, Lackey has kept the ball in the lower half 60 percent of the time or higher.

And because of his consistency throwing low, he had success going high. Batters were 0-for-6 in at-bats ending with a pitch in the upper half, his first start this season without allowing a hit on a pitch in the upper half. Lackey struck out four batters on pitches in the upper half, tying a season high (May 6 vs. Washington).

In addition, Lackey used his curveball on 19 percent of his pitches, his highest rate in a start this season. Phillies hitters were 0-for-5 in at-bats ending in a curveball, including a double play.

Lackey ended the start retiring the final 16 batters he faced.