VIERA, Fla. — It was the kind of day where Edwin Jackson could afford to joke about the one that got away – far, far away.
The Washington Nationals right-hander bounced back from three consecutive shaky outings with six innings of two-hit ball in a 6-3 split-squad victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
One of those hits was a homer by Jason Heyward, a 2-2 pitch that was sent over the 35-foot center field fence, well over 400 feet away.
“(It was a) fastball,” Jackson said. “I think he just missed it, though. I don’t think he got all of that one.”
In his three previous outings, Jackson had given up 18 runs – 13 earned – and 23 hits and had failed to go longer than four innings. On Thursday, he got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first inning and seemed to find his rhythm in making his longest outing of the spring.
Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer, his third of the spring, off Atlanta starter Mike Minor in a six-run sixth inning for Washington.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was pleased with Minor’s outing despite a few control issues. Minor pitched 51/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits while walking five and striking out six. He is expected to start again on Tuesday in Atlanta’s final tuneup before the start of the regular season.
Another encouraging sign was the return of reliever Jonny Venters, who threw a scoreless ninth inning. The left-hander had been out since March 18 with inflammation around his left shoulder.