Orioles hang on to beat Phillies, 6-5

Tillman, Britton overcome struggles as O's stay unbeaten in exhibition play

March 02, 2011|By Peter Schmuck, The Baltimore Sun

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The wind was blowing in at Bright House Field on Wednesday afternoon, which made it a little easier for a couple of the Orioles' young starters to match up against the big-swinging Philadelphia Phillies.

Chris Tillman and Zach Britton both struggled with their emotions in their 2011 exhibition debuts, but they still held things together in the early innings and the Orioles held off a late Phillies rally to remain undefeated with a 6-5 victory.

"I was a little jumpy ... too excited,'' Tillman said. "I tried to see the result instead of focusing on the pitch."

The result wasn't bad, except on one pitch to slugger Ryan Howard, who drove a ball off the right-field fence to bring home a run in the first inning. Credit the stiff breeze with an assist, or it likely would have been a two-run homer.

Britton said he was as nervous as he has ever been on the mound, but he still got through two innings without giving up a run. He allowed two hits and threw a wild pitch and said afterward he could barely remember what happened.

"I've really never been nervous,'' Britton said. "Today was really the first time. ... I think when I get out there the next time, I'll be within myself some more."

Meanwhile, the Orioles continued to pile up hits early in the exhibition season. Matt Wieters, hitting in the designated hitter slot, led a 16-hit offensive attack with two RBI singles and came close to delivering a third with a two-out base hit in the seventh. Pinch runner Nick Green was thrown out trying to score from second, then awarded the plate because he was obstructed by Phillies third-base prospect Harold Garcia.

By rule, Wieters did not get credited with an RBI, though that would seem to defy baseball logic. If the umpires determined that the reason Green didn't score was because he was obstructed, then that would seem to indicate that the hit was sufficient to drive in the run.

Infielder Brendan Harris had two doubles and catcher Jake Fox had a pair of singles in a balanced Orioles attack, but -- thanks to the stiff wind blowing in from right center field -- there was no repeat of the fence-busting fireworks that highlighted the Orioles' first two Grapefruit League victories.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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