TUCSON - Max Scherzer, slowed by shoulder inflammation this spring, pitched five solid innings Saturday as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed four hits, one earned run, struck out three and didn't walk a batter as he evened his spring record at 1-1.
"Throwing first-pitch strikes allowed me to keep my pitch count down," said Scherzer, who threw just 61 pitches. "The ground balls were great, but the best thing I did today was not walk anybody."
Arizona aided Scherzer by getting to Indians starter Zach Johnson (1-2) for four runs in the first two innings.
Josh Wilson, in the lineup while starting shortstop Stephen Drew recovers from an abdominal strain, hit a two-run triple in the second inning and Chris Snyder hit his third homer of the spring — a solo shot to left in the fourth.
Scherzer was originally scheduled to throw only four innings.
He went five because his pitch count was so low as he faced the minimum three hitters in four of his five innings.
"Real good," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said of Scherzer's performance. "Had a couple ground balls up the middle for his only run, but was much better as far as economical with his pitches. He kept the ball on the ground, he had a much better slider today and even pitched to both sides of the plate."
Melvin said he has not decided if Scherzer's next start will be in a spring training game or a minor league appearance, but it will likely include about an 80-pitch limit.
Scherzer's first two spring appearances netted a 7.36 ERA with eight hits and one walk in just 3 2-3 innings.
Jackson allowed five earned runs off five hits with four strikeouts in four innings. His primary competition for Cleveland's final bullpen spot — Vinnie Chulk — was much better, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and lowering his spring ERA to 1.72. Jackson's spring ERA is now 6.87.
Indians manager Eric Wedge said the fact the two pitchers were going head-to-head in the same game was not a coincidence.
"At this point in camp, I think you need to up the ante a little bit, "Wedge said. "Raise the level and you find out a little about (each of them)."
Cleveland catcher Damaso Espino went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Notes: Indians outfielder David Dellucci, slated to hit fifth in the lineup, was a last-minute scratch with tightness in his left calf. He's listed as day-to-day.
Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, struggling with a .190 spring batting average, spent Friday and Saturday getting extra at-bats at the team's minor league facilities at the Kino Sports Complex. He's expected to be back in the lineup Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. Upton said he's trying to work on some "small mechanical issues, but nothing to worry about."