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Matusz struggles in O's opener

SARASOTA, Fla. - Brian Matusz insisted everything was fine. After he allowed three runs and six hits in his two inning stint on Monday night, Matusz seemed placid.

His Baltimore Orioles teammates hope that he, and they, get much better.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had 18 hits and scored 10 runs in the first five innings as the Orioles lost 10-3 before 6,228 at Ed Smith Stadium in the home opener of their exhibition season.

The good news for Matusz was that he allowed just one hard-hit ball. The bad news was that he gave up five other hits.

His only saving grace was ending by getting the last two Pittsburgh hitters on called strikes.

"It felt nice to be back out there on the mound and let it fly a little bit," Matusz said. "I felt strong."

The tendency for fans watching on television or just hearing about the game would be to worry about Matusz, who was 1-9 with a horrifying 10.69 ERA last season.

Not to worry, he insists.

"I feel like I'm right on track where I want to be," Matusz said.

Manager Buck Showalter wasn't critical of Matusz.

"It's a first start. He'll only get better," Showalter said. "He's given himself a chance to have success this year."

Matusz wasn't the only Baltimore pitcher to struggle. Kevin Gregg gave up a two-run home run in his only inning, Matt Lindstrom allowed three runs and Darren O'Day two more in the inning he pitched.

By the time O'Day left, the Orioles trailed 10-1.

Gregg was focusing on the positive-happy with the three strikeouts that ended his inning.

"You don't expect a lot out of a first outing," Gregg said.

Only Lindstrom, in his first outing since the team picked him up in the Jeremy Guthrie trade last month, admitted displeasure.

"It's not really the impression you'd like to leave on your new team," Lindstrom said. "Adrenaline, first time in the lights after four months definitely had something to do with it, too."

With Nick Markakis still recuperating from surgery on his abdomen in January, manager Buck Showalter started a lineup which had seven possible Opening Day starters in it.

Only right fielder Jai Miller and designated hitter Ryan Adams are unlikely to be with the team on Apr. 6.

SPLIT-SQUAD AFFAIR: The Orioles beat the Rays 3-1 in Port Charlotte in Monday afternoon's split-squad game.

After starter Alfredo Simon allowed a first-inning double, four pitchers pitched seven hitless innings. Brad Bergesen followed with two hitless innings and got the win. Non-roster right-hander Miguel Socolovich and Zach Phillips each pitched two scoreless innings. Pedro Strop allowed Tampa Bay a ninth-inning run.

"We threw a lot of strikes over there against a good lineup," Showalter said.

The Orioles scored a run in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk to Nick Johnson and Ryan Flaherty hit a two-run triple in the eighth.

COMING UP: The Orioles travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday to play Boston. Dana Eveland, Chris Tillman, Pat Neshek, Jon Link and Oliver Drake will pitch for Baltimore. Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves, Alex Wilson, Clayton Mortenson and Michael Bowden are scheduled for the Red Sox.

ODDS AND ENDS: Orioles minor league utilityman Travis Adair was hit by a ball on his head during batting practice for the team's split-squad game against Tampa Bay. He's the son of pitching coach Rick Adair, and his father said the son, who suffered "a major concussion" five years ago, was doing well. He had a CT scan on Monday afternoon. ... Brady Anderson, the former Orioles outfielder, who's now an assistant to top baseball man Dan Duquette, threw out the first pitch.

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