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Strange brew: Hammel finds tonic vs. Crew

In best start since early July leg injury, Cubs starter improves to 7-0 vs. Milwaukee, 5-0 at Miller Park

MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs have reinforcements coming with the Friday additions of pitchers Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter, but the best news may have been that starter Jason Hammel had his best outing since a minor leg injury in early July. Of course, Miller Park may have had something to do with Hammel's success.

Hammel held the Brewers to one run over 5 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 4-1 victory Friday. It was the right-hander's third start after the All-Star break and best since July 3, when he went seven. On July 8, he was limited to one inning because of a strained left hamstring.

"It's definitely the best I've felt in over a month," Hammel said.

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon could tell the difference.

"I saw 93, 94 [mph], and the ball down, which meant he could get over his front-side extension," Maddon said. "I thought it was a good sign."

Hammel said he was finally able to stride into his front leg, which helped his fastball command.

"That's what's been missing," he said.

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But what is it about the Brewers and Miller Park? Hammel now is 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA against the Brewers, and 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in six starts at Miller Park.

"I try not to pay attention," he said. "I like pitching here. The ball feels good in my hand, I have a good grip. It is what it is. Those things, I can't really explain."

Haren and Hunter are expected to join the Cubs on Saturday. Hammel and Hunter were teammates on the Orioles, and the Cubs starter cautioned that the new reliever is "not necessarily quiet." All the Cubs ask is that he helps them in their bid for a postseason berth. The Trade Deadline has passed, and it's time to focus on the field.

"We could care less," Hammel said of all the rumors. "That's not our role. We're supposed to come out here and win ballgames. We like who we've got. We're pretty confident with the fellows we have."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
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