BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Tommy Hunter took a big step toward locking up a spot in the Baltimore Orioles’ starting rotation by handcuffing the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Hunter worked six innings and allowed one hit, walked one and struck out five.

“It was definitely fun,” Hunter said. “That was baseball — going out for six innings and still having something left. We’ll
see what happens when April 6 and the rest of the season comes around.”

Hunter was sharp, even though it was only his second Grapefruit League start. He was slowed at the start of camp by a sore back, then tossed five solid innings in his debut March 21 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“The last time, it was a struggle to locate my fastball,” Hunter said. “Tonight, I fell behind the first batter. But after that, I settled in and me and (catcher Matt Wieters) were in sync pretty much all night.”

Wieters had three hits and scored a run. He began the seventh inning with a double and scored on Mark Reynolds’ soft single to right field. Reynolds scored on a throwing error by third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

“Both pitchers looked like they were ready to start the season,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Tommy had a good look on his face. You could tell he was really focused tonight — a lot of left-handed hitters, the wind was blowing out in right (field). I thought he was effective.”

Left-hander Erik Bedard, who will be the Pirates’ opening day starter, worked six-plus innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and struck out five.

“I did what I try to do every game, change speeds and hopefully they don’t hit it,” Bedard said. “There was a lot of swing-and-miss early, but that was because of the (setting) sun. I just threw strikes and changed speeds.”

Bedard was drafted by the Orioles in 1999 and pitched in 114 games for them from 2002-07.

Bedard held the Orioles hitless until the fifth, when Wieters led off with a single to center. Bedard ran into trouble in the
sixth, when the Orioles loaded the bases on two-out singles by Nolan Reimold, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis. But Bedard found an escape hatch, blowing strike three past Adam Jones.

“I was throwing a lot of off-speed tonight, trying to make it better for the season,” Bedard said. “I know the fastball’s there.”

Notes: The Orioles put LHP Zach Britton (left elbow soreness) on the 15-day disabled list. .. . 2B Brian Roberts (concussion) will break camp with the Orioles, but he will remain on the 15-day disabled list. Roberts will continue to participate in light pregame activities. … The Orioles reassigned C John Hester, INF Steve Tolleson, RHP Armando Galarraga, LHP Dontrelle Willis and OF Scott Beerer to minor league camp. RHP Brad Bergesen, INF Matt Antonelli and RHP Jason Berken were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk….Alvarez was back in the lineup Monday after sitting out the previous three games due to inflammation in his left knee. He went 0-for-3, including two strikeouts.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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