Matusz, Pie impress in O's loss to Rays

March 04, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Brian Matusz struck out four of the first five batters he faced before giving up a wind-aided two-run homer, Felix Pie had a homer and a triple before leaving with a left quadriceps injury in the Orioles' 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays today at the Charlotte Sports Park.

Second baseman Justin Turner tied the game with a solo homer in the ninth before Rays center fielder Matt Joyce hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to win it for Tampa Bay.

Matusz, the 23-year-old left-hander who is considered one of the favorites for the American League Rookie of the Year award, struck out the side in the first inning, ending the frame by fanning Evan Longoria in a 13-pitch at-bat.

Carlos Pena reached on an error by second baseman Blake Davis to start the second and after Matusz fanned Pat Burrell, Sean Rodriguez drove a 3-2 pitch up into the wind and it carried over the right-field fence. That ended Matusz's afternoon as he had reached his maximum pitch count.

"I really wanted to pound the zone and throw strikes. I was able to do that today," said Matusz, who threw 28 of his 36 pitches for strikes. "I came out today and threw a lot of fastballs. I didn't go off my gameplan at all, even with that at-bat with Longoria where it was long."

Pie led off the game with a home run off Rays starter Jeff Niemann. He then drove a triple into the left center-field gap in the third inning, but pulled up gingerly into third base. Two pitches later, Pie was replaced by pinch runner Matt Angle, but he said that he would have stayed in the game had it happened during the regular season.

"I just stretched it a little bit," said Pie, whose 2009 season ended prematurely with a left quadriceps strain. "It's not hurt or nothing. I could have stayed in."

Making his first appearance since hurting his elbow on June 23, Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless bottom of the third, retiring the Rays on eight pitches.

Mark Hendrickson and Kam Mickolio weren't as fortunate as Hendrickson give up two runs in the fourth on RBIs from Pat Burrell and Reid Brignac, and Mickolio allowed a run-scoring single to Justin Ruggiano in the fifth.

For the Orioles, Lou Montanez hit a two-run double in the fifth and Miguel Abreu cut the Rays' lead to 5-4 with an RBI triple in the seventh off Lance Cormier.

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