BALTIMORE - It had been a long time for Brian Matusz.
Matusz, who suffered through a horrible 2011 and had slowly showed signs of improvement earlier this season, finally blossomed Tuesday night.
Matusz allowed just two hits in 6 1/3 innings, in the Baltimore Orioles' 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox before 25,171 at Camden Yards.
Last year, Matusz was a frightful 1-9 with a horrifying 10.69 ERA. Now that can be forgotten.
He tied his career high with nine strikeouts and walked one. Matusz (4-4) gave up a second-inning single to Adrian Gonzalez, a walk in the second to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a fourth-inning home run to Kevin Youkilis.
After Youkilis' home run, he retired his final eight batters. Manager Buck Showalter removed him after he struck out Gonzalez to begin the seventh and let him enjoy a leisurely walk to the dugout and a well-deserved ovation.
"I had chills going through my body," Matusz said
"I've come a long way since last year when it was the opposite when people were on their feet booing."
Since snapping a 12-game losing streak on May 1, Matusz is 4-1, and gaining confidence each start. For the third straight game, he walked just one.
"He knows what's expected now," Showalter said. "Our young pitchers have a real grasp of what's good enough and what's not, and they just have to hold themselves to a high standard. He got away with a couple pitches tonight."
When this season started, there were lots of doubts about Matusz. He was in the rotation, almost by default. Zach Britton and Tsuyoshi Wada were injured, and when he started off with three straight walks, some worried that it was 2011 all over again.
"I'm getting my confidence back," Matusz said. "I forgot all about last year. I look at that just as a fluke. For me, it's about being able to keep getting better each time out. I haven't forgotten what it feels like to lose. So, these wins are special."
Matusz's teammates gave him a second-inning two-run home run by Steve Tolleson off Felix Doubront (4-2). It was Tolleson's first of the year.
It was only the second home run of Tolleson's big league career, but he was more interested in talking about Matusz.
"Man, he was special tonight," Tolleson said. "Locating all of his pitches. It seemed like every time he needed to make a big pitch, he made it, and that's a tough lineup to pitch against."
Wilson Betemit hit a two-run homer to right off Matt Albers in the eighth, his seventh.Darren O'Day struck out the two batters he faced in the seventh. Pedro Strop pitched a hitless eighth and Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 16th save this season. He's converted 24 in a row dating back to last August.
NOTES: Brian Roberts will begin his rehab assignment tonight in Bowie. Roberts will play second base for the first two games, then be the designated hitter. He'll take some days off during his 20-day assignment that could end with him returning to the Orioles June 12.
"I'm excited, scared a little bit," Roberts said just before the start of Tuesday' game. "We had this date in mind for a little while."
Roberts hasn't played with the Orioles since suffering his second concussion on May 16, 2011.
"It's been a long time coming. Sometimes it feels like two days, sometimes it feels like two years," Roberts said.
Initially, he'll be limited to two at-bats.
The 34-year-old Roberts has played just 98 games in the last two seasons because of a back injury and two concussions.
"I hope that by the time I join the major league team, I'll be the same guy I was five years ago," Roberts said.Nolan Reimold has decided to get a second epidural injection for his herniated disc Friday.
Britton will make a rehab start in Bowie Saturday.
In his first three games with Norfolk, Miguel Tejada is 4-for-10.