Chen cruised until the fifth (updated)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen became the first Orioles pitcher today to work past the fourth inning, though the fifth didn’t go as smoothly as the rest.

Chen took a three-hit shutout into the top of the fifth before allowing back-to-back singles to Ryan Lavarnway and Pedro Ciriaco, and a three-run homer to former Orioles farmhand Nate Spears. His only walk came with two outs to former Orioles outfielder Darnell McDonald, but Josh Kroeger struck out looking to end the inning.

Chen was charged with three runs and six hits, with one walk and three strikeouts over five frames. He threw 75 pitches - including 24 in the fifth - and 54 were strikes. His fastball was clocked at 91-93 mph.

The Taiwanese lefty had thrown 39 of his 51 pitches for strikes entering the fifth. Stu Pomeranz began to warm in the bullpen after Spears’ home run.

Chen threw behind Lavarnway at first base in the second inning, which led to a caught-stealing, and he picked off Adrian Gonzalez to end the fourth. He almost nabbed Lavarnway at second base in the fifth.

In three spring outings, Chen has allowed four runs and nine hits over 10 innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts.

Brian Matusz has gone four innings twice this spring.

Nick Johnson is 2-for-2 today, but the Orioles are still looking for their first run. Johnson was thrown out at the plate, 7-6-2, on J.J. Hardy’s two-out single in the fifth.

Kevin Gregg is warming for the Orioles. We haven’t seen him pitch since last Sunday’s B game.

Over in Fort Myers, Chris Davis has the only hit for the Orioles, who trail the Red Sox, 1-0, in the top of the fourth. Manny Machado is 0-for-1 against Josh Beckett in his first start for the Orioles.

Update: Gregg tossed a scoreless sixth despite a walk and infield hit. He induced a double play grounder to end the inning.

The Orioles have tied the game in Fort Myers, 1-1, on Wilson Betemit’s RBI single.

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