CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Brian Matusz lost his last nine decisions in 2011 and struggled again in his first exhibition outing.
The next time out, he looked a lot better.
Matusz bounced back from a shaky spring debut, pitching four sharp innings as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 Saturday.
“That’s a tough lineup — especially at home in Clearwater,” Matusz said. “It felt nice to be able to go out there against a top-notch lineup and be able to attack the zone like that.”
Matusz went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 2011. Earlier this week, he gave up three runs and six hits in two innings to Pittsburgh.
Against Philadelphia, the 25-year-old lefty allowed three hits without a walk while striking out four.
“He’s put in so much this offseason since the last pitch was thrown,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “I want to see him getting a return. When you’re doing the right things, I want to see them getting a return.”
Joe Blanton pitched three scoreless innings for the Phillies in his second spring start. The 31-year-old righty was limited to eight starts last year because of an elbow injury.
Blanton allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one.
“I feel good, physically I feel really good,” Blanton said. “I had zero problem getting loose between innings and I know sometimes that can be a factor in the spring, getting used to that up-and-down, up-and-down, even when you’re coming off a 100 percent healthy season and you’re 100 percent going into spring, that always is the tough one.”
Chris Davis greeted Phillies reliever Scott Elarton with a leadoff home run in the fourth. It was Baltimore’s first homer this spring.
Elarton, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008, retired the next 12 batters in a row.
The 36-year-old Elarton, a former 17-game winner, was invited to major league camp after Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. personally scouted him last fall.
“All I’ve ever done is battle, I was always injured, coming back from injury, rehabbing, all that stuff,” said Elarton, who has allowed one run in six innings this spring. “That’s kind of what I do. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, absolutely.”
Philadelphia catcher Tuffy Gosewich was the only player on either team with more than one hit in a two-hour, 18-minute game dominated by pitching. Gosewich went 2 for 2 with a double.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)