Dale Sveum called last year's sweep by the Nationals in Washington the "worst butt-whipping" he had experienced as a player, coach or manager.

But after losing Friday's opener of the three-game series, the Cubs came back to win games started by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, two of the game's most dominant pitchers.

"That showed me a lot about these guys, to do something like that," Sveum said.

Making the series victory more surprising was the fact Strasburg retired the first 11 batters he faced on Saturday, while Gonzalez retired the first 15 men he saw Sunday.

"Back-to-back days you have a perfect game (going against you) and you win both of those games," Sveum said. "That doesn't happen too often."

Whether the Cubs can use this series as a steppingstone remains to be seen. They return home Monday to play three games against the Rockies, who have come back to earth after a hot start, struggling against the Cardinals' over the weekend.

"We've lost so many games we had control over," Sveum said, "to know that this record could be flip-flopped with a little better play, because the pitching has kept us in so many games."

Back on track: Scott Feldman didn't get the win, but he continued his hot streak Sunday with six strong innings.

Feldman has allowed six earned runs over 332/3 innings in his last five starts, a 1.60 earned-run average.