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Jackson's four scoreless guides Cubs to spring win

Right-hander fans six, walks one and allows three hits

Jackson's four scoreless guides Cubs to spring win

MESA, Ariz. -- Edwin Jackson got back on track, striking out six over four scoreless innings in the Cubs' 4-2 split-squad win Monday over the Angels in front of 14,787 at Cubs Park.

The game did not get off to a good start for Jackson, who will likely be slotted third in Chicago's rotation. The Angels loaded the bases against the right-hander with two outs in the first on two singles and a walk, but he struck out Carlos Pena to end the inning. Jackson gave up three hits and walked one.

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"It was one of those days when you don't necessarily have your best stuff, and you have to be able to throw out your best pitches for strikes," Jackson said. "I was able to go out and do that and fortunate enough to get out of a couple jams early in the game."

Cubs catcher Welington Castillo was happy with Jackson's ability to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes.

With two weeks remaining, is Jackson where he wants to be, pitching-wise?

"I'm pretty close," he said. "The main thing is being comfortable and being able to go out and have a steady rhythm every time. Knock on wood, it's pretty much been a spring where I've worked on making hitters put the ball in play, and I've been able to do that."

Jackson issued his first walk on Monday.

"Making the hitters put the ball in play -- the more you can do that, the better chance you have of getting through innings," he said.

In his previous start, Angels starter Joe Blanton moved to the third-base side of the rubber and pitched five one-hit innings against the Rangers, which was a much improved outing after serving up four homers over 3 1/3 innings against the Rockies.

On Monday, Blanton was again on the third-base side, and only had difficulty in the third. With one out in the Chicago third, Darnell McDonald walked and scored one out later on Emilio Bonifacio's triple. Ryan Roberts followed with a RBI double and then tallied on Anthony Rizzo's single to go up 3-0.

Blanton was lifted after 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks.

Cubs closer Jose Veras retired the side in an efficient sixth.

The Angels' lineup featured players competing for bench spots, including utility infielders John McDonald and Andrew Romine, left-handed hitters Pena, Chad Tracy and Ian Stewart and outfielders Collin Cowgill, Matt Long, and Brennan Boesch. They took advantage of the Cubs in the eighth, scoring runs on two wild pitches -- one by Blake Parker and another by Paolo Espino.

Up next: Jason Hammel will make his second spring start on Tuesday when the Cubs face the Rangers in a 9:05 p.m. CT game in Surprise. Hammel's first start was delayed because of rain, and he also has pitched in a "B" game. In the right-hander's last outing, he threw 75 pitches over six innings. Top prospect Javier Baez is expected to make his second start at second base as well. The game will be available via a exclusive cubs.com audio webcast and on MLB.TV

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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