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Blanton wobbles in third inning vs. Cubs

Angels score pair of runs on wild pitches in eighth

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 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: The Angels have an off-day Tuesday, but Garrett Richards will get his work in by pitching six innings against the Cubs' Triple-A team on the main field at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 1 p.m. PT. Closer Ernesto Frieri is also slated to pitch in that game. On Wednesday, it'll be 22-year-old left-hander Tyler Skaggs facing the White Sox and right-hander Erik Johnson in Glendale. Skaggs, a favorite for the fifth spot of the rotation, has a 4.35 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this spring.

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

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Joe Blanton