Flaherty strengthens his case (Betemit homers)

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty drove in two more runs today, increasing the Orioles’ lead to 3-1 over the Twins in the second inning and increasing his chances of making the club.

Flaherty tripled to center field, scoring Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis. The Orioles almost hit for the cycle that inning, with Betemit reaching on a single and Davis following with a double.

Flaherty is 9-for-33 this spring with one double, two triples, one homer and seven RBIs. Only Adam Jones (eight) has driven in more runs for the Orioles.

Each day seems to bring a new position for Flaherty. Today, he’s starting in right field.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Xavier Avery’s double, Robert Andino’s sacrifice bunt and Nick Johnson’s ground ball. The Twins tied the game in the bottom half on doubles by Ben Revere and Joe Mauer.

Left fielder Nolan Reimold had a chance to catch both balls, but he couldn’t get to them. The first one cleared his head, and the second eluded his outstretched glove as he broke toward the line.

Wei-Yin Chen threw 21 pitches, 13 for strikes in the first inning, but made it through the second on 13 pitches (seven strikes). He’s allowed one run and three hits.

Update: Wilson Betemit hit his first home run this spring, a two-run shot off Carl Pavano in the third inning that upped the Orioles’ lead to 5-1.

Chen retired the side in order in the bottom half, throwing seven of his eight pitches for strikes.

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