FORT MYERS and SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles had mixed results from their split-squad games Saturday, but the most encouraging aspect from the afternoon was the performances of two of their young starters.
Chris Tillman, who is fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation, took a major step forward with his best performance of the spring, throwing five innings in a 6-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fort Myers, Fla.
Brad Bergesen, who is expected to be the club's No. 4 starter, also looked solid in four of his five innings as the Orioles' primary lineup beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2, at home in Sarasota.
Facing a Boston Red Sox lineup that featured every regular except outfielder Mike Cameron, Tillman didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning. He then surrendered a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia and, two batters later, Kevin Youkilis hit a cut-fastball over the left-field wall. It was Tillman's only real mistake in 70 pitches 47 of which he threw for strikes.
"I thought it went real well today," Tillman said. "I felt good warming up before the game and when I missed, I missed down."
The Red Sox, led by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, threw a four-hit shutout against an Orioles lineup that had only one regular: first baseman Garrett Atkins.
In Sarasota, Bergesen recovered from a difficult first inning to take another important step back to the form he exhibited before a wicked line drive ended his solid 2009 season last July. He pitched 4 2/3 innings Saturday and gave up just three hits. He surrendered one hit after a first inning that was marred by second baseman Ty Wigginton's error.
ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ "I felt myself rushing in my delivery," Bergesen said. "So I went in and talked to (pitching coach Rick Kranitz) and he told me to go out and try go stay back on the rubber."
ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ ÃÂ He settled down and the Orioles' offense was aided by a Luke Scott homer and a two-run single by Double-A prospect Paco Figueroa, which scored his twin brother, Daniel.