Britton blanks Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Left-hander Zach Britton extended his spring scoreless innings streak to nine today by shutting out the Houston Astros through the fourth. Chris Tillman replaced him as scheduled.

Britton allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. By my unofficial count, he threw 57 pitches, including 38 for strikes.

Britton’s pace was slow in the first, when he walked Oswaldo Navarro with one out and gave up a single to Carlos Lee. But Jason Michaels grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Brian Bogusevic doubled with one out in the second inning, but Britton responded by striking out Brian Dopirak and retiring Anderson Hernandez on a grounder to second. Navarro singled with two outs in the third, but Bill Hall grounded out.

Lee led off the fourth with a walk and Jason Michaels bounced a single into left field. A wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs. Big-time jam. Big-time gut check.

Britton responded by striking out Bogusevic with the count full and retiring Dopirak on a shallow fly ball to right. Michaels lost track of the outs and broke for third, allowing the Orioles to double him up and end the inning.

Big-time escape.

Tillman gave up one hit in the fifth, on Michael Bourn’s two-out bunt single.

The Orioles still lead the Astros, 3-0.

I should note that Ryan Adams ranged far to his left to field a ground ball and record the out at first base. It was an impressive play.

Adams flied to deep center in his second at-bat.

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