"I thought it would be worse," he said after pitching three innings in the Orioles' 6-5 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. "Getting hit last time and being able to be under control this time, it was fun to be out there again. ... I felt good throughout all three innings."
Gonzalez gave up two runs and four hits, but the results weren't the important thing. He has had a star-crossed spring, getting shut down temporarily at the start with a sore back before getting a big scare when Cameron Rupp knocked him off the mound with a line drive.
"It's been a little different than other years," he said, "but I'm not worried about it. Just try to stay healthy, that's the most important thing. I know I had a little back spasm and got hit by a ball, but I'll just stay within God and everything will be fine."
Gonzalez retired six of the first seven batters he faced, but allowed a leadoff homer to second baseman Brock Holt and an RBI single to A.J. Pierzynski in the third. Left-hander Brian Matusz took over in the fourth inning and retired six straight batters, striking out three.
Red Sox starter Allen Webster allowed just a couple of hits through his first three innings before spinning out of control in the fourth. He walked three straight batters with one out before giving way to reliever Alex Wilson, who immediately walked in one run and brought home another with a wild pitch.
But the Red Sox took back control of the game in the middle innings, scoring a run off closer candidate Tommy Hunter on a solo homer by Will Middlebrooks in the sixth inning, and then scoring three times off veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves to snap the Orioles' seven-game exhibition winning streak.
The Orioles rallied in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run double by Michael Almanzar, but they couldn't complete the comeback.