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Attacking strike zone key to Wood's success vs. Bucs

CHICAGO -- On Tuesday, Travis Wood picked up his first career win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field, struck out a season-high nine batters, and didn't walk anyone. It was a good night, not only for the lefty, but for the Cubs.

"That's why you can be 12-7 now," manager Joe Maddon said of his team after the 6-2 win. "You can't do it without really good pitching and, of course, the bullpen. When your starting pitchers go deep in the game, all of a sudden, your bullpen gets better. It's an easy equation."

The Cubs won their fourth straight game for the first time since a five-game streak June 3-7 last year, and now have their best start through 19 games since going 13-6 in 2008. They are five games over .500 for the first time since the end of the '09 season (83-78).

"We're playing great ball right now, and everybody's on board and we're rolling, and hopefully we can stay there," Wood said.

Wood is looking more like the 2013 pitcher who made the National League All-Star team and compiled 24 quality starts. He notched his second quality start on Tuesday when he allowed two runs over seven innings. The Pirates' only runs came on Starling Marte's two-run homer in the fourth, which was the first hit off Wood in the game.

Video: PIT@CHC: Maddon discusses the Cubs' 6-2 win over Bucs

"[The pitch] was down, but it came back to the middle, and you know that's what he wants," Wood said of the pitch. "He's a good hitter, and he made me pay for it."

Part of Wood's problems last season, when he was 8-13 with a 5.03 ERA, were too many walks. To not issue a single one Tuesday is encouraging.

"It means you've been attacking the strike zone and getting some quick outs, and not letting them get deep and not giving any free passes," Wood said. "Free passes bit me before in the past -- they bite every pitcher. To keep that off the board is a good thing."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
Read More: Chicago Cubs, Travis Wood