Edwin Jackson isn't off to the start he -- or the Cubs -- imagined, but he feels he's getting there.
The 11-year MLB veteran picked up his league-leading sixth loss Friday against the Mets, but he turned in his longest outing of the year (6 2/3 innings).
"I think it's just been a mechanical thing," Jackson said after the Cubs' 3-2 loss. "I've been feeling pretty good mechanically. I've been going out and getting in a rhythm early.
"But regardless of how I feel, regardless of how I looked, regardless of if I pitched well, the objective is to come out and win the game. We battled today, but we came up short."
Jackson was tasked with dueling against Mets phenom Matt Harvey, who was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and has taken the baseball world by storm with his early-season success. Last time out, Jackson had to go head-to-head with Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.
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"It's part of the game," Jackson said. "We look forward to it. It's fun to go out and compete against a guy like [Harvey].
"You pitch against the pitcher a little bit, but for the most part, you still have to go out and get one through eight or one through nine [in the lineup] out."
It was the "nine" that provided the crippling blow Friday, as Jackson surrendered the game-winning hit to Harvey in the seventh inning.
"There are some pitchers out there that can swing it," Jackson said. "It's more frustrating if you go out there and miss location. If you go out and you execute a pitch and you get beat, sometimes that happens. But it was a fastball that came back across the plate."
Jackson knows what it's like to be on the other end of that scenario. In the nation's captial last weekend, he delivered a key two-out, two-run double off Strasburg. Jackson picked up his first win in a Cubs uniform that afternoon, limiting the Nationals to two runs on four hits and a pair of walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"I've been feeling pretty good the last couple starts," Jackson said after Friday's game. "Tough luck today, but it happens and we'll continue to go out and battle."
After a first-inning homer by David Wright, the Cubs regained the lead and gave Jackson a boost with a two-run bottom of the first off Harvey. But the offense was silent after that, managing just three singles the rest of the way.
"He pitched a very good game," Alfonso Soriano said. "I'm sorry he got the loss. We have to score more runs for him."
Despite the lack of offense and Harvey's go-ahead RBI, the Cubs were still in a position to tie the game and give Jackson a no-decision.
Darwin Barney led off the eighth inning with a soft single to center and advanced to second on a Julio Borbon sacrifice. The next batter, David DeJesus, snapped off a sharp single to right field, but former Cub Marlon Byrd threw Barney out by a wide margin at the plate to end a golden opportunity.
"Turns out it wasn't a very close play," Cubs third-base coach David Bell said. "It's disappointing...As a third-base coach, you want to make the right decision, and clearly that was not the right decision."
Dale Sveum was the third-base coach on the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series and sympathized with Bell's decision.
"I've been in that situation before and there's situations you'd like to have back sometimes," Sveum said. "Those things happen."