BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Baltimore Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen, eager to put last season’s struggles behind him, tossed two solid innings Monday in a 6-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bergesen faced seven batters, allowed one hit and got two strikeouts. His performance in the Orioles’ spring training opener was a positive step toward locking up a spot in the starting rotation.

“I want to come in here and do what I’m capable of doing and also prove a point,” Bergesen said.

A rookie standout in 2009, Bergesen last year was hampered by injuries to his leg and shoulder. He was twice sent to the minors and finished the year 8-12 with a 4.98 ERA.

A big reason for Bergesen’s slow start was that he still was recovering from a bruised left shin when he reported to camp.

“Last year I was just rushing myself, just trying to get my arm in enough shape to be able to pitch off a mound, so it didn’t really give me that much time to work on my mechanics or get to where I needed to be,” Bergesen said. “This year, it’s a whole other story. Hopefully, I can have that time like I’ve had so far and get ready for the season the way I want to.”

Paul Maholm, already assured of a job in the Pittsburgh rotation, started for the Pirates. The left-hander worked two innings and gave up two runs on four hits.

“My main thing was to be aggressive in the zone,” Maholm said. “For the most part, that’s how the day went.”

Maholm threw only fastballs and changeups and focused on pitching inside. He struck out two and his sinker induced two groundouts.

“Pitching inside is going to be my focus for the spring and this season,” said Maholm, whose .303 opponents’ batting average was the highest in the majors last year. “I have to throw it with a purpose. You’re not going out there to hit batters, but you have to let them know you’ll come in and take back that part of the plate.”

In his Orioles debut, Vladimir Guerrero had an RBI infield single in his first at-bat. Nolan Reimold homered leading off the second inning.

“A bad sinker,” Maholm said. “I tried to paint it and wasn’t aggressive like I was with the rest of them.”

Lyle Overbay hit a solo homer for the Pirates in the fifth.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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