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Berken throws three scoreless in start for Norfolk; Bell homers; Montanez, Mickolio back in bigs

Right-hander Jason Berken, in his first start for Triple-A Norfolk, pitched three scoreless innings in the Tides' game against Louisville this afternoon.

Berken allowed five hits and struck out three while throwing 28 of his 43 pitches for strikes. He loaded the bases in the second inning but got out of it without allowing a run.

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Berken was demoted after Friday's game, in which he gave up six earned runs on five hits, two homers and a walk in one inning in the Orioles' 17-5 loss to the Washington Nationals. That raised his ERA to 7.94 over 15 relief appearances for the Orioles.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the following day that the organization wanted Berken to go down to the minors and start, giving him an opportunity to get stretched out and work through some of the command problems he has been experiencing.

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Showalter said this doesn't mean that the club looks at Berken as a starter going forward. Team officials just felt that this is what he needs right now. Berken came up as a starter and went 6-12 with a 6.54 ERA in 24 starts in 2009.

He made the team out of spring training in 2010 as a reliever and emerged as the one of the Orioles' most reliable bullpen options, pitching to a 3.03 ERA over 41 appearances before a partial tear in his shoulder ended his season.

In that Norfolk game, third baseman Josh Bell gave the Tides a 1-0 lead in the second innings with his seventh home run. He also hit an RBI single in his next at-bat and has 23 RBIs on the season. Center fielder Matt Angle also hit his first home run in the third inning.

Former Orioles outfielder Lou Montanez will have his contract selected by the Chicago Cubs today. Montanez, 29, was hitting .369 with five homers and 43 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa.

The Diamondbacks also recalled reliever Kam Mickolio, whom the Orioles sent to Arizona as part of the Mark Reynolds deal.

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