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Orioles: Chen flashes good pickoff move

SARASOTA, Fla. - Wei-Yin Chen has mastered American culture, and he's slowly learning English. On Saturday, he showed he's picked up a cool pickoff move.

He allowed three runs in five innings as the Baltimore Orioles played to a 3-3 tie in 10 innings before 7,777 at Ed Smith Stadium.

In the first four innings, Chen allowed three hits and picked off one runner and helped nab another one stealing.

In the second inning, the Red Sox's Pedro Ciriaco was trying to steal. Chen sniffed him out and threw to first. Nick Johnson threw to second, and Ciriaco was out.

In the fourth, Chen saw Adrian Gonzalez leaning off first, threw quickly to Johnson and Gonzalez was out.

He nearly had a third against Ryan Lavarnway in the fifth inning, too.

Chen, who signed with Baltimore in January after four seasons in Japan, is a native of Taiwan, so he's not inexperienced when it comes to learning new ways.

"I'm surprised myself, too," Chen laughed along with his interpreter.

"It's probably my first time to pick off a runner because in Japan, they don't pick off a lot. Here, that's a new experience to me. It's one of the new things I'm learning right now," Chen said.

Manager Buck Showalter said that Chen has been an avid student of pitching coach Rick Adair.

"Chen did not come with that move."

In the fifth inning, Chen was extended. He allowed two singles and a wind-aided three-run home run to one-time Orioles draft pick Nate Spears. He threw 75 pitches and became the first Baltimore pitcher to throw five innings.

In his three starts, Chen has pitched 10 innings and allowed four runs and nine hits.

"I like where he is right now," Showalter said. "He's gotten better each time out."

In the Fort Myers half of the split-squad, the Orioles lost to Boston 7-4 before 9,356 at JetBlue Park. Armando Galarraga allowed four runs and six hits. Brad Bergesen gave up three runs in two innings.

Josh Beckett gave up a run and two hits in five innings.

Baltimore, which sent only regulars Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis, had seven singles.

MARKAKIS GETTING BETTER: Nick Markakis played in his second game since January surgery for a torn abdominal muscle. He had a single and double-his first two hits of the spring.

Markakis has been the designated hitter, and will play in the field for the first time on Tuesday against Philadelphia.

CHAVEZ HITS: Endy Chavez went 1-for-3, and saw his batting average drop. The leadoff hitter is batting .409.

Showalter sees him as a fourth outfielder, and he could occasionally be the designated hitter. He may not lead off often because he doesn't walk enough.

Matt Wieters was hitless in three at-bats, and his average dropped to .100 (2-for-20.)

COMING UP: The Orioles play their second split-squad game in as many days on Sunday. Jason Hammel and Tsuyoshi Wada are scheduled to pitch for Baltimore against Atlanta in Orlando in the afternoon. Wada, who has yet to pitch this spring, will be limited to 30 pitches. In the evening game, the Orioles host the New York Yankees. Alfredo Simon, Jon Link and others will pitch for Baltimore. Ivan Nova is scheduled for New York.

ODDS AND ENDS: Tommy Hunter said he felt fine after throwing four innings in a minor league game at Twin Lakes on Friday. He's scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Toronto. ... The Orioles have won just one game in their last eight-five losses and a tie. They're 5-7-3. ... In honor of St. Patrick's Day, the Orioles wore green bills with green birds on their caps. The Red Sox wore green jerseys.

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