VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson had his roughest outing of the spring in a 6-3 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday night.
Jackson went 3 1/3 innings and allowed four runs -- two earned -- on five hits. He struck out two batters and walked two others. Jackson said he didn't have any problems with his mechanics, but pointed out that he was out of sync in the fourth inning.
With two outs in the first, Clete Thomas hit what looked like a routine fly ball to left fielder Jason Michaels, but Michaels dropped the ball to extend the inning.
Michaels didn't make any excuses, stating that he just missed the ball.
The error would prove costly, as Ryan Raburn followed with a two-run homer to give the Tigers the early lead. Both runs were unearned for Jackson.
In the third inning, Austin Jackson scored the third run of the game on a single by Thomas. An inning later, Gerald Laird drove in Jhonny Peralta with a single to right field to make it a 4-1 game.
"Errors happen, mistakes happen. That's part of the game," Jackson said. "I got out of sync a little bit in the fourth inning, but that's why we are here in Spring Training -- working out the kinks and everything. But overall, I feel pretty good.
"It's the best I've felt. The results were not necessarily the best. I'm in Spring Training. We get caught up in results in Spring Training, when Spring Training is a time when you are getting ready for the season. That's what we have to be doing. The first game I had walks, so I'm not going to go kill myself."
Harper expected to play on Wednesday
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is expected to hit seventh in the lineup against the Braves on Wednesday evening in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The way manager Davey Johnson was talking Tuesday, it's not a guarantee that Harper will play. Johnson said Harper must go through a full workout before Johnson makes it official.
Harper took batting practice before the game against the Tigers on Tuesday, and he later tried to convince Johnson to let him enter the game against the Tigers.
"Can't you read, you are not on the board," Johnson said he told Harper.
Harper has not been in the lineup for six consecutive days because of a tight left calf.
Johnson said he is going to give Harper every chance to become the Opening Day right fielder. Harper is 5-for-11 (.455) in four exhibition games.
Ankiel a couple of days away from returning
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel is still nursing a tight left hamstring, which he suffered Friday against the Marlins.
Manager Davey Johnson is hoping that Ankiel can play Thursday against the Yankees. On Tuesday, Ankiel took batting practice with his teammates at Space Coast Stadium before the game against the Tigers.
"If it was the regular season, he would play, but there is really no need," Johnson said about Ankiel. "He said he feels good running around the outfield. He feels good at the plate. He looks good. He probably needs a couple of more days."
Ankiel, who signed a Minor League deal this offseason, is trying to make the team as a platoon player or a backup.
One Johnson goal is strong bench for Nats
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson has made it know that he wants a better bench than he had last year. The bench was a combined 38-for-202 (.188) with two home runs and 14 RBIs.
Johnson all but guaranteed that infielder Mark DeRosa and catcher Jesus Flores will be two reserves on the 25-man roster. However, Johnson indicated that the rest of the bench would not be decided until close to the end of Spring Training.
Rick Ankiel, Andres Blanco, Roger Bernadina, Brett Carroll, Stephen Lombardozzi, Jason Michaels, Mark Teahen and Chad Tracy all have chances to be part of the bench.
Considering that Johnson wants more of a lefty presence on the bench, Bernadina and Lombardozzi, who is a switch-hitter, have a good chance of making the team. Tracy and Ankiel, both left-handed hitters who signed Minor League contracts, are also trying to make it as bench players. There is a possibility Ankiel could be a platoon player in center.
Johnson already announced that first baseman Tyler Moore will not make the team out of Spring Training. Moore, one of the team's top prospects, is expected to play every day for Triple-A Syracuse. Moore has been impressive this spring, going 6-for-15 (.400) with two RBIs entering Tuesday's action.
Morse not making the trip to face Braves
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Michael Morse was expected to hit fourth in the lineup against the Braves on Wednesday, but he was scratched on Tuesday night.
No reason was given for his absence, but it's well known that Morse has been dealing with a right lat (back) strain. Instead, Chad Tracy will replace Morse as the designated hitter and hit sixth.
Morse played in Tuesday's game and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against the Tigers.
Outfielder Roger Bernadina didn't play Tuesday because he had a tooth pulled that same day. He is expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting ninth and playing left field against the Braves.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.