Jeff Conine and Jerry Hairston each hit a two-run homer, and Rick Helling pitched five strong innings, as the Orioles topped the New York Mets in a game shortened to eight innings because of rain. Helling had a splitting headache when the game began but turned in his best start this spring, holding the Mets to one run on four hits. His cut fastball was sharp, and he finished with six strikeouts. The top of the Orioles' lineup looked impressive, as Jerry Hairston and Gary Matthews hit back-to-back singles to start the first inning. With men on first and third, Matthews stole second, and B.J. Surhoff had a textbook at-bat, advancing both runners with a grounder to second base.
Conine followed with a two-run homer. Marty Cordova came off the bench and hit his team-leading fourth home run.
Jeff Conine: Reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances, going back to Saturday, before flying to left field in the fifth inning.
Jerry Hairston: Orioles hope his spring success spills into April this time.
Larry Bigbie: Another start and another two runs scored for the up-and-coming outfielder.
Kerry Ligtenberg: Gave up his third homer of the spring, this time to Raul Gonzalez. His ERA sits at 7.11.
Jose Leon: Made his fifth error of the spring for the Orioles.
Eric DuBose: Gave up two runs in one inning, but only one was earned, as shortstop Eddy Garabito made two errors on the same play.
Matthews was shaken up after stealing second base with a headfirst slide in the first inning, as Mets shortstop Jose Reyes landed on Matthews' neck. Matthews stayed in the game. ... Tony Batista missed his third consecutive game with a sore throat. With a long trip to Viera today, and an off day tomorrow, he will likely return Thursday.